Heart and Lung Transplant
Heart and Lung Transplant Facts
A pioneering heart surgeon, Dr Christiaan Barnard, performed the first successful human-to-human heart transplant operation in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa. Unfortunately, early operations resulted in problems such as infection and rejection, and heart recipients did not survive very long.
With advances in surgical technique and development of new drugs to suppress the immune system, a majority of transplant recipients currently survive more than 3 years.
Successful lung transplantation has been performed since the early 1980s. The first surgeries involved transplanting both lungs and the heart together. Since then, operations have been developed to transplant both lungs, a single lung, and even partial lung (lobes).
Combined heart and lung transplants are rare.
Because of such demand, systems have been developed to make sure that the sickest people are first to receive donor organs. Donors are carefully screened to make sure that only healthy lungs are transplanted. Because of the severe shortage, bilateral lung transplants are rare. Most patients receive a single lung.
When do you need a heart and lung transplant?
The most common indication for heart transplantation is severe end-stage heart failure, which means the heart cannot pump blood well enough to reach all tissues in the body. People who receive heart transplants get them only when their failing hearts do not respond to medicines or other surgical treatments. Several conditions lead to heart failure, including the following:
The most common reason people get lung transplants is for chronic obstructive lung diseases such as emphysema. Other people are born with conditions that cause their lungs to fail, such as the following:
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2016
Shabir Bhimji, MD
Michael B McDonnell, MD
William K Mallon, MD
Kathryn L Hale, MS, PA-C
Alan D Forker, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Jonathan Adler, MD
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Heart and Lung Transplant:
Heart and Lung Transplant -- Patient Experience
Did you receive a hear and lung transplant? Tell us about your experience.
Heart-Lung Transplant -- Rejection Prevention
What medications were you prescribed to prevent rejection of your heart-lung transplant?