Transplant surgery

What is transplant surgery?

Transplant surgery is where an organ in your body is replaced with an organ from a donor. Transplant surgery for pulmonary hypertension (PH) can involve replacing the heart and lungs, or just the lungs. It is more common in children than in adults, but is rarely used these days. This is largely due to the availability of effective drugs for PH.

Transplant surgery is not suitable for everyone with PH. If your PH team think your quality of life and life expectancy will be improved by transplant surgery, you will be carefully assessed. Factors that are considered in this assessment include: age, life expectancy, other diseases that you may have, psychological state and lifestyle.

Risks and benefits of transplant surgery

Transplant surgery is a high-risk operation. These risks can include surgical complications, organ rejection and infection. Once you have had a transplant you will be under the care of an expert team for the rest of your life.

Transplant surgery can improve quality of life and life expectancy in a small number of people with PH. Your PH team will talk you through the pros and cons of the operation.

In the video below, respiratory consultant Charlie Elliott and transplant expert Professor Paul Corris discuss the facts about transplant and pulmonary hypertension:

Real transplant experiences

Catherine Makin had a double lung transplant in January 2020, five years after being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension at the age of 32.

Paula Massie received a double lung transplant in 2019, ten years after being diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Pauline Ginn shared her experiences five years after her heart and lung transplant.

Charlie Beeton received a double lung transplant just a few months after being diagnosed with PH – and celebrated his 13th birthday in hospital just nine days later. 

Kirsty Smith is a racehorse trainer who received a double lung transplant 15 years after her PH diagnosis.

Hope Barker’s mum, Jocelyn, developed PH after the birth of her daughter – and when Hope turned 13, she underwent a double lung transplant.

Find more real experiences and interviews with experts here

Organ donation

The availability of donor organs is very limited. Thousands of people are on the transplant waiting list.

Although most UK countries have now adopted an ‘opt out’ system it is still really important that people share their wishes with family and loved ones. Family would always be involved before donation takes place, so if you make your decision clear, they can have peace of mind knowing that your decision is being honoured.

Please share this information with other people, as if they are able to donate their organs on death, this may one day substantially improve the life of someone living with PH.

Find out more, including details of the law around organ donation where you live, here.