Recovery and Next Steps

In Hospital

Immediately after surgery, lung transplant patients recover for two to four days in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. During this time patients are likely to:

  • require the assistance of a ventilator for a day
  • receive pain medications, immunosuppressant medications, antibiotics, and other medications per the Lung Transplant Program's protocol

Patients are transferred to the transplant unit when they are ready, where daily physical and pulmonary therapy will begin. Recent advancements in anesthesia, surgical techniques, and post-operative care have dramatically shortened the time patients spend in the hospital to approximately 14 days.

At Home

Once they return home, patients are encouraged to return to normal activities to the extent that their energy levels permit and resume outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation as soon as possible. They return to the Center weekly for diagnostic testing and medical care, and will need to adjust to the lifestyle changes associated with organ transplantation. After three months, checkups at the Center will be scheduled monthly as long as the patient's condition allows less frequent visits.

Over the course of these visits patients will be instructed how to manage aspects of their care including:

  • post-transplant medications
  • monitoring for signs of organ rejection
  • preventing infection
  • exercise
  • nutrition
  • pets
  • driving
  • returning to school and work
  • skin and hair care
  • dental care
  • abstinence from smoking and alcohol
  • sexual activity
  • pregnancy

Organ transplant recipients must take immunosuppressant and antimicrobial medications for the rest of their lives. The side effects associated with these medications can be wide ranging, but they can be managed.


NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University

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

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