CF is a progressive condition so there may come a time when your lung function declines substantially. You may have had already had some discussions about transplants with your CF care team. Following your treatment is the best way to slow the progress of CF as much as possible, but when your team tells you that it may be time to consider a transplant, it can be a difficult decision to weigh up.
Lung transplant is a treatment, not a cure. Your new lungs will not have CF but it won’t change what is happening in the rest of your body. Lung transplants also bring their own problems such as the risk of organ rejection.
A lung transplant replaces diseased lungs with healthy donor lungs. The main goal of lung transplants for people with CF is to extend life expectancy and improve your quality of life.
The workup for transplant is extremely thorough and extensive. All the body’s systems are screened and treatment is provided to optimise lung function, nutrition and mental wellbeing. The guidelines for consideration for lung transplant in people with CF are:
- low lung function (FEV1 < 30% predicted or a rapid decline, especially in females)
- exacerbation requiring ICU admission (intensive care unit)
- increasing requirements for antibiotics
- pneumothorax (air leak into the space between the lung and chest wall)
- uncontrolled coughing of blood
- a significant decline in quality of life
There may be reasons why you would choose not to have a transplant or may not be a suitable candidate. It is important to discuss your options with your CF team.
If you do decide to go ahead with a transplant, you will be added to the wait list. Some patients only wait a few days or weeks for their transplant, but most wait between 6 to 18 months.
Post-transplant management requires multiple medications including anti-rejection and antibiotics, lung function monitoring and regular sputum sampling.
Australia has some of the best transplant results in the world and survival after a lung transplant is higher in Australia than anywhere else. Most patients report returning to a relatively normal life after their lung transplant.
- CF Community Care offers Transplant Assistance Grants to financially support our members undergoing transplants
- Donate Life (organ donation)