There are more people who need lungs than there are lungs available
The long road to being a recipient of donor lungs begins with an evaluation for the procedure. As explained by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, “there are more people who need lungs than there are available donor lungs. Therefore, when donor lungs become available, they are offered first to the people with the most urgent need for them. Need is represented by a number called the Lung Allocation Score (LAS). The LAS is a number, ranging from zero to one hundred. It is the result of a calculation that takes into account a person’s age, body mass index (BMI) and certain medical test results. A higher LAS represents a more urgent need of transplant.”
When a compatible organ donor dies, the prospective recipient is notified and evaluated by a team of medical experts, including a transplant surgeon, a transplant pulmonologist, transplant nurses, a social worker, a psychiatrist or psychologist, a dietician, a chaplain (if requested) and an anesthesiologist. During this arduous process, the transplant team requests interviews, medical history, a physical and psychological exam and diagnostic tests, such as blood tests and imaging. The transplant team will explain the procedure to the prospective recipient, as well as cover pre-surgical preparations.