Lung Transplant Program

Life After Lung Transplant

Our primary objective is to support your child and your family in transitioning to a new routine following a lung transplant, facilitating their return to school and engagement in activities they enjoy. The majority of our pediatric lung transplant patients experience a swift recovery post-surgery, often within a matter of days. While the recovery period may vary depending on individual circumstances, some patients may require only a few weeks of hospitalization. Families often witness a remarkable improvement in their child's energy levels and overall well-being during this time. For infants or those who have been hospitalized prior to transplantation, a more extended hospital stay might be warranted to ensure optimal recovery and care.

Post-Transplant Care 

Discharge from the hospital is a notable milestone for transplant patients, indicating the beginning of a new journey. Yet, it is important to recognize the potential for complications. The lungs are the only transplanted organ that are exposed to the outside environment, making them more prone to infection and subsequently rejection by the body's immune system. To maintain optimal organ function, collaborative efforts with both you and your local healthcare providers are essential to ensure thorough monitoring.

The Lung Transplant Program requires a three-month stay in the Houston area following transplantation, with regular evaluations thereafter. During this time, patients will attend frequent appointments at the transplant clinic and engage in regular physical therapy sessions, as well as any necessary specialty follow-up visits. This structured approach ensures thorough assessment and support during the initial recovery phase.

Upon returning home, close collaboration with local health providers is maintained. Scheduled visits with the home team and prompt consultations for any health concerns are essential, with ongoing communication back to the transplant team to facilitate shared decision-making.

Follow-up visits at Texas Children's Hospital are scheduled at 6, 9, 12, 18, and 24 months post-transplant, followed by subsequent visits every 6 to 12 months. Additional visits may be necessary for acute illnesses or complications. Families should consider travel and accommodation expenses when planning for transplantation, as most re-evaluations can typically be completed over four days, often scheduled from Monday through Thursday.

Transition to Adult Care

Texas Children’s Hospital specializes in pediatric care, and our goal is for lung transplant recipients to eventually transition to adult care as they mature. We maintain strong partnerships with local programs, as well as with other adult lung transplant facilities across various states. Starting at age 14, our transition process begins with encouraging our adolescents to assume responsibility for their medications and communication with the transplant team, highlighting the importance of timely correspondence. We facilitate the seamless transition of our patients to adult care between the ages of 18 and 21.

Types of post-transplant medications 

Anti-rejection (immunosuppressant) Stomach acid reducers Corticosteroids Blood pressure Anti-infective (antibiotics, antivial, antifungal) Diuretics Immunomodulators Vitamins and supplements Immunizations
Anti-rejection (immunosuppressant) Stomach acid reducers Corticosteroids Blood pressure Anti-infective (antibiotics, antivial, antifungal) Diuretics Immunomodulators Vitamins and supplements Immunizations
Anti-rejection (immunosuppressant) Corticosteroids Anti-infective (antibiotics, antivial, antifungal) Immunomodulators Immunizations Stomach acid reducers Blood pressure Diuretics Vitamins and supplements

Post-Transplant Infection Prevention

Your child will receive high doses of anti-rejection medications at the time of transplant that lower the body’s ability to fight off infections. Exceptional precautions must be taken to avoid contact with other people who may be ill. Thoughtful consideration regarding visitors during this time is recommended.

The initial 6 to 12 months after transplant pose the highest risk for infection. However, these medications are lifelong and patients and families always need to be thoughtful about possible exposure to illness. Your transplant team will help to educate you on how to keep your child healthy.