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What to Expect Before & After Your Lung Transplant Operation at Tampa General Hospital

Female physician in the operating room As soon as an organ becomes available for your lung transplant operation, your transplant donor coordinator will call and inform you to report to Tampa General Hospital. This call may come at any time of the morning, afternoon, or night, and it’s important that you always answer your phone. We also recommend that you provide us with contact numbers for your friends and family in the event that we need help reaching you. When your donor coordinator calls, he or she will request an update on your current health status, then help you prepare for your lung transplant operation. You’ll discuss:

  • Your current prescription list, and whether you should immediately discontinue medications, including insulin
  • Important requirements regarding eating and drinking
  • A list of items you’ll need to bring with you to the hospital, including your transplant handbook and a fully charged cell phone

From there, you’ll need to have a care partner drive you to TGH. Transplants are time sensitive, so you’ll need to come in as soon as possible. We’ll tell the admissions department that you are on your way, and you will be directed to your room once you check in. After you’re admitted, you’ll receive several blood tests and be prepped for your surgery. Your family can stay with you until it’s time for your lung transplant operation, at which point you’ll be sent to the operating room and your loved ones will be directed to the waiting area. The transplant team will provide your family with updates while you are in surgery – a process that typically takes between three and six hours. Once your lung transplant operation is finished, you’ll be brought to the cardiothoracic intensive care unit (CTICU), where immediate family can be with you as you wake up. You’ll receive medications to minimize pain and help you relax. Several tubes will be inserted into your body after your lung transplant operation, including a breathing tube, a catheter to drain your bladder, IV lines to administer medicines, a nasogastric tube to keep your stomach empty so nausea isn’t experienced, and chest tubes to drain fluid from your chest. Once you’re able to breathe on your own, you’ll be assigned to a private room in the transplant unit, where you’ll stay until you’re discharged. While recovering from your lung transplant operation, a family member can stay with you in your room as long as no medical reasons prohibit it.

Because transplant patients have a high risk of infection, children under the age of 12 are not permitted in the transplant unit, but we can easily accommodate a visit in a different area of the hospital. You can expect to stay at TGH for one to two weeks, depending on your condition before your lung transplant operation and your body’s response to the new organ.  You’ll have daily X-rays, blood tests, and meetings with your transplant team.

You and your support person(s) will also participate in educational sessions so that you’ll know how to care for yourself when you return home. For instance, you’ll learn how to take your medications, check your blood pressure, blood sugar, and body weight, and maintain your transplant log, which you’ll bring with you when you return to Tampa General Hospital’s Cardiac & Lung Transplant Clinic for post-transplant check-ups.