When a potential donor has been identified, a transplant coordinator will call you. After your child arrives at the hospital, he or she will be admitted. At the scheduled time, your child will be taken to the operating room.
Transplanting a lung is a long, complex surgery. There are at least two surgeons involved in your child’s transplant. One surgeon will be in the operating room with your child. A second surgeon is responsible for traveling to the hospital where the donor is located and retrieving the donor lungs. The surgery typically takes on average six to eight hours, during which you will receive regular updates from the operating room nurses.
When the transplant is complete, your child will go back to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and you will be allowed to be with them. Most patients begin to wake up 2 to 10 hours after surgery. Your child will have a breathing tube to assist their breathing initially. They will also be on strong medications for the first 24 hours, so they will be groggy and will wake gradually. Once awake and breathing on their own, the breathing tube will be removed. This typically occurs within the first 48 hours.
Your child will experience some discomfort after the transplant surgery. We have special team members who will help your child be as comfortable as possible. Everyone recovers from surgery at a different pace. It is normal to have some days that are better than others as your child recovers.
The lung transplant team will see your child every day and will discuss with you any changes and be available to answer any questions. Once your child is stable, he or she will move out of the CICU to the cardiothoracic step-down unit.