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The Lung Transplant Evaluation Team

During your lung transplant evaluation, you will meet with a large team of physicians, social workers, physical therapists, psychologists and dietitians. It is easy for that one idea to become overwhelming, but you will quickly find out that each person, working within their specialty, is there to help you through the process.

Here is a brief list of some of the transplant team members that will be involved in your care1.

Transplant Pulmonologist – This person specializes in lung disease and transplantation. This physician will be looking at your past medical history, thoroughly examining you, and will be a key voice in the outcome of the evaluation. This person will also be highly involved in post-transplant care.

Transplant Surgeon – This is the person that would actually perform the surgery. If you have questions about the actual procedure, this is the person to ask.

Transplant Coordinators – You and your family will come to appreciate these nurses as they teach you about every step of the transplant process. They will become your primary contacts once you begin the evaluation.

Transplant Program Specialist – This person will work directly with your pulmonary physician at home, making sure that records are available and accurate. He/she will also be involved with obtaining the financial clearance before the evaluation.

Transplant Social Worker – This person will be involved with looking at your support network. He/she will be looking at your finances, social habits, and your family life. It is his/her job to determine if you can handle the impact of a lung transplant, as a whole picture.

Medical Psychologist – This specialist will be concerned with your behaviors in the past and how you will respond in the future. Any previous use of substances like alcohol, nicotine and other drugs will be discussed. Also any history of depression will be discussed. Don’t assume that a past history of these will keep you from transplant. It is important to go through this evaluation honestly.

Physical Therapists – You will be evaluated by this person to see if you are physically able to handle the exercise regiments required before and after surgery. This will be the person that will direct the physical activity during your recovery.

Transplant Financial Coordinator – As you would expect, this is the person that reviews your insurance (and if applicable, Medicare) benefits and provides the potential cost of transplantation. This is bigger than just the surgery itself. You will look at the cost of relocation (if necessary), travel to and from appointments, medications and care at home, if necessary. This person will work to get prior approval from your insurance to make sure that your benefits are used in the best way possible.

Transplant Dietitian – It is important that you maintain a healthy weight to give you the best chance for a successful transplant. Nutrition is an important part of keeping a healthy lifestyle, and this person will be key in helping you plan out a healthy eating plan.

You will come to appreciate each person on your team. They will test and evaluate you to determine if a transplant is the right option. It is important to know that they have your best interest in mind. They want to give you a new lease on life, but if the surgery could cause bigger problems for you based on your health in other areas, it may not be a good option. Also, if you don’t have a strong support system (caregivers), they know that the process will be very difficult for you. There are many more factors in deciding who is a good candidate, and it is important that each area of your life is able to handle the transplant process and your life after transplant. It would not be a good or respectful use of donor organs to give them to someone that will not take care of himself/herself. This team has the task of making a very difficult decision. Pray for them often.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Duke Transplant Center, Patient Education, Before Your Transplant - Part 1. pg.2-4. Current for 2016.