The patient's heart and lungs are removed and the donor heart and lungs are stitched into place. A heart-lung transplant is performed only in patients who have a very good chance of success. The long-term outcome is variable, depending on the patient's overall health and disease progression. Most patients should expect to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time. It generally takes about six months to fully recover from this surgery. To prevent rejection of the donor organs, the patient will likely take immunosuppressive medication for the rest of his life.
Update Date 1/30/2016
Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.