Lung Transplant

Lung transplant is one of a number of options for end-stage lung disease. It's not for everyone, and should not be considered for you unless all other treatment options are unsuccessful. At the University of Michigan Transplant Center, we provide the newest treatment options for people with end-stage lung disease—including access to clinical trials—and have performed more than 600 lung transplants. We are the oldest and largest lung transplant program in the state of Michigan.

On average, we perform 20-40 lung transplants a year with a current patient survival rate of 90% one year after the procedure. Studies have consistently shown that patients transplanted at high-volume centers (greater than 20 lung transplants a year) have better patient survival rates than those transplanted at low-volume centers (fewer than 20 lung transplants a year). We offer services that are not available widely, including ambulatory ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation). ECMO is an alternative to a mechanical ventilator in wait-listed patients with respiratory failure that allows people to remain active and strong while waiting for a lung transplant.

While lung transplantation at the University of Michigan was officially designated as a program under the umbrella of the Transplant Center in 1990, the first revolutionary effort at lung transplantation in Michigan was performed here in 1969.

About Lung Transplant

Here are some helpful facts about lung transplant:

  • Lung transplantation is the surgical replacement of either one (single) or two (double) badly diseased lungs with healthy lungs from a human organ donor.
  • The diagnosis typically determines if a single or double transplant is needed. For example, cystic fibrosis requires a double transplant because the lungs contain bacteria that will spread into the new lung if only one new lung is implanted. Other factors include age, health and previous surgeries.
  • Lung transplantation is not that common. Only 1,500-1,700 people receive a lung transplant each year in the U.S. To compare, there are about 16,000 kidney transplants performed in the U.S. annually.
  • There are a variety of reasons you may not get listed for transplant, such as being too sick, having other end-stage organ issues, infections, or cancer.
  • Our typical age range for lung transplant is 18-63, however we have transplanted patients as young as 16 and up to the age of 65. Candidacy is determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Because of the fragility of the lung, the survival rates for lung transplant patients are not as good as for solid organ transplants, with a five-year survival rate of about 50-60%. The biggest limiting factor in lung transplant is having enough suitable lung donors.

Lung Transplant Research Studies

Research is an important component of the University of Michigan Transplant Center, where we are committed to studies that will benefit patients of today and tomorrow. The University of Michigan is one of the top pulmonary fibrosis research centers in the world, with a number of clinical trials available—especially pre-transplant—along with a variety of immunosuppressive and antibiotic protocols. Our comprehensive multidisciplinary clinics and extensive clinical and basic science research programs assure you have access to the newest medications and technologies.

Current clinical trials include treatment and prevention of infections after transplant, and investigations of stem cells found in transplanted lungs that could play a role in preventing or causing scarring (chronic rejection) of the new lungs.

Get Evaluated

To make an appointment to evaluate your need within our Transplant Center, call a patient care representative at 1-800-333-9013. Find a University of Michigan lung transplant doctor.