Evaluation and Waiting

Lung transplantation is a complex procedure, and it may not be the best treatment option for all patients with end-stage pulmonary disease. Doctors in the lung transplantation program carefully evaluate patients for the procedure who meet the following criteria:

  • No acute and/or critical illness
  • No significant other organ dysfunction, such as severe heart, kidney or liver disease
  • No active cancer within last two to five years depending on the type and stage of cancer
  • Abstinence from cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol use and drug addiction for at least six months
  • Track record of compliance with follow-up visits and medications
  • No significant and active psychiatric problems
  • Current body weight with a BMI of less than 30
  • Ability to pass a standard six-minute walk test and participate in pulmonary rehabilitation program
  • No HIV infection, or chronic hepatitis
  • No infection with certain difficult-to-treat micro-organisms


The evaluation process includes an initial screening, multiple tests and consultations, and laboratory assessment. Candidates for transplantation are evaluated by the following members of the transplant team:

  • a transplant pulmonologist,
  • a surgeon,
  • a transplant coordinator,
  • a psychiatrist,
  • a social worker,
  • a financial counselor,
  • and in some cases a cardiologist and gastroenterologist.

The complete outpatient testing and consultation process requires three to four full days at the hospital, which may be scheduled over four to six weeks. The transplant team then discusses the test results at the multi-disciplinary team meeting and reviews them with the patient before making a decision on whether to proceed with transplantation.


Patients who are determined to be suitable candidates for lung transplantation are registered with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the non-profit organization that maintains the national patient waiting list and organ matching system.

Most patients in the New York region wait an average of six to twelve months before transplantation; this can vary depending on the patient's blood type, which must match that of the donor.

During the waiting period it is critical that patients:

  • maintain good nutrition and overall health so that they will be strong enough for surgery when a donor organ becomes available
  • exercise at home as guided by the team or in an outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation program, because recovery from surgery is easier in those who are physically fit
  • continue regular medical evaluations and treatments under the coordinated care of referring physicians and the transplant team
  • keep immunizations up to date to avoid preventable infections and illnesses

The Center provides educational and support services to patients and their families during this time and after transplantation, including seminars, support groups, counseling services, and reading materials.


NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University

Center for Lung Disease and Transplantation
Phone: 212-305-7771

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