Lung transplants for mesothelioma patients take time and money. As a mesothelioma patient, however, you ARE entitled to recover compensation for your costly medical bills and treatment programs.
For more information about how to secure compensation for your medical bills, treatment costs and other losses, please contact us today.
When a patient’s respiratory health has deteriorated to a level at which doctors predict that he or she won’t live long without a healthy replacement lung, a lung transplant may be considered as a treatment option. Lung transplants have been successfully used to treat patients with lung cancer and less often with mesothelioma cancer. Lung cancer can be caused by asbestos exposure, and mesothelioma nearly always is.
Helpful Resources for Lung Transplant Surgery Patients
Discovering you or someone you love is in need of lung transplant surgery may be overwhelming and scary; however, it doesn’t have to be. For resources and information about the procedure, its benefits and risks please fill out the form on the right and someone will be in touch with you shortly.
Are You a Possible Lung Transplant Candidate?
If you have mesothelioma or another lung disease caused by asbestos, the question of whether a lung transplant will help you will be considered by a number of people:
- Your surgeon
- A pulmonologist (lung specialist)
- Perhaps your primary care physician
- A transplant coordinator
- You and your family members, especially those who contribute to your care
If you are deemed an appropriate candidate for lung transplant surgery, you should know that:
- You’ll be on a waiting list for a donor, and you might have to wait for months or even years for a new lung, and
- You’ll be taking medications for the rest of your life to keep your body from rejecting the new lung (or lungs).
What Are the Possible Complications of a Lung Transplant?
After a lung transplant for mesothelioma or other asbestos disease and a few follow-up weeks in the hospital, a gradual recovery can be expected, but the possible complications of lung transplant surgery should be kept in mind:
Lung Transplant Surgery for Mesothelioma Cancer Patients
Lung transplant surgery for your mesothelioma cancer is usually not thought of as an option. The issue is that mesothelioma is not largely cancer that actually develops within the lung tissue. Instead, most mesothelioma actually grows in the outer lung or outer organ lining. This is a membrane that is called the mesothelium. But note that when mesothelioma is in later stages, it can move into the lungs.
This is why a possible surgical treatment for mesothelioma can involve taking out one of the lungs. This is known as an extrapleural pneumonectomy. However, as mesothelioma is not a direct cancer of the lungs, doing a lung transplant is not going to cure cancer.
Removing the tissue that is malignant in a mesothelioma case is often very challenging. When it is actually accomplished, it is a major surgery and it takes months of recovery. One of the major criteria for being eligible for getting a lung transplant is that the patient does not have cancer at the present time, and he must also be fairly healthy other than the lung-related issue. Age is also a major factor. Most patients with mesothelioma are over 60, so having a lung transplant is frequently not an option.
Lung Transplants and Asbestosis
Some lung transplants have been completed successfully for patients who have asbestosis. These patients typically suffer from severe fibrosis, meaning that breathing is extremely difficult. However, many asbestosis patients have difficult odds in getting lung transplants because they are too old. While asbestosis does have a shorter latency period than mesothelioma, most people who get it are over 50 once they have serious symptoms.
Here are some other reasons that asbestosis patients usually make poor candidates for lung transplants:
- Asbestosis cannot be treated with a transplant until the patient has a year or so to live. By this time, the scarring in the lung tissue is so bad that the lungs are hardly working. It takes years for the asbestosis to get that far along, and most patients are too old by then for the surgery. The most common age for a lung transplant is 55; most asbestosis patients who are candidates are much older.
- There are few donors available at any one time for a transplant. It is difficult to find a donor who has healthy lungs but is brain dead and on life support. The matching process is also very complicated. The donor and recipient have to be about the same age and blood type. The X-ray of the donor also must show the lungs are clear of defects. The recipient of the lungs has to be on the waiting list at the exact same time and be able to handle the physical stress of the surgery.
- It is hard to get approval from health insurance carriers. These companies usually do not think that a lung transplant is an effective treatment for asbestos-related diseases. It is a very expensive operation and most people cannot afford it on their own.
Talk to the doctor who is responsible for your mesothelioma or asbestosis care about the feasibility of receiving a lung transplant, or if you need a mesothelioma specialist use the resources on our site to find one.
Lung Transplant Surgery, The Procedure
Lung transplant surgery is a major undertaking. The surgery can take place only when the right donor is available — not simply when it’s urgently needed by the recipient. The lung transplant surgery may need to be performed with very little notice, such as when a donor becomes available following a fatal accident. In other cases, there is more time to prepare for the donor.
For a lung transplant, the donor’s lung (or both lungs) are very carefully removed and immediately packed for transport to the facility where the recipient will undergo surgery. In some cases, the distance between facilities is rather large, and lungs are vulnerable organs that can be preserved for only about five or six hours.
A lung transplant surgery is performed under general anesthesia. The recipient’s heart is stopped, and a heart-lung bypass machine and an artificial breathing machine are used to maintain the body’s stasis during the removal of the diseased lung or lungs.
The donor lung is put in place and tested for viability and health; if all is well, the recipient’s chest is closed. The patient will spend a number of days in an intensive care unit for observation. During this time, rejection of the new lung or lungs is a definite risk.
How Much Does a Lung Transplant Cost?
The cost of a lung transplant can range widely, depending on factors such as:
- Procedure type (single or double-lung transplant)
- The severity and stage of the lung disease
- The amount of time that is spent in the hospital, before and after the procedure
- The medication used during and after the surgery
- The type of insurance plan the patient has. The insurance company may try to deny coverage for this surgery.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Lung Transplant?
Lung transplants do not always work out well, especially for those who have mesothelioma. They can be more appropriate for people with lung cancer. Some of the potential downsides include:
- Long time for recovery: The time to get over this surgery can be months. It can require you to have a lot of down time resting after the surgery. The time period for recovery is very delicate and challenging. You will need to take care to obey all of the restrictions that have been placed upon you by your surgeon. Anyone who has had a lung transplant needs to stay in bed resting for several weeks. Most people find this very boring and frustrating. But it is critical to obey the instructions of your surgeon for the best recovery.
- Rejection: As with any transplant, there is a chance that your body will reject the new organ. Patients are given several drugs to reduce the chance that the immune system will reject the lung, but it can still occur. Another problem is that a weaker immune system means you are more likely to come down with an illness that can really make you sick. Even the flu or a cold can be a serious health emergency after you have a lung transplant.
- Long, hard process: A successful lung transplant is dependent upon many factors. It is a very long, painful ordeal that is even harder to handle when you already are sick and not feeling well with serious cancer. A major surgery such as a lung transplant will always be tough, but tougher when the body is already weakened. Also, you may have to wait months for a suitable donor to become available. This by itself is very stressful.
- Infections: This is one thing that many people do not realize. You can have a relatively successful initial transplant of the lung. But the success can be undermined by infections that take hold weeks after the surgery. This is largely because you are taking immunosuppressants that reduce the chances of rejection, but these infections can be life-threatening.
- Airway issues: Problems can occur when there is a lack of blood flow to parts of the airways that were connected to the lungs of the donor. This may heal on its own, but you may need additional treatments.
- More cancer: Your immune system will work constantly to destroy bad cells in the body. When you are taking immunosuppressive drugs, the immune system has difficulty doing this. Bad cells can multiply faster and can become cancer. After the transplant, you must take immunosuppressive drugs for the balance of your life.
- Other complications: There can be a higher risk of other serious complications, such as diabetes, osteoporosis and kidney disease. Some of these health conditions can even be just as dangerous as cancer that you were treating with the lung transplant surgery.
Compensation for the Cost of the Lung Transplant Surgery
Depending on the nature of the lung disease, patients who undergo lung transplant surgery may qualify to recover mesothelioma compensation for all medical costs and treatment programs.
For instance, individuals who have to undergo a lung transplantation following a mesothelioma or an asbestos-caused lung cancer diagnosis may be eligible to seek compensation from the individuals and companies responsible for the asbestos exposure that caused the development of the lung disease.
It is important to work with a good attorney on this; many health insurance companies may try to not pay for your lung transplant if you have mesothelioma. You may need to get compensation from the company or companies that caused your exposure to asbestos in the first place.
To find out if you qualify for compensation, contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers today to schedule a private, no-cost consultation with an experienced asbestos attorney who will thoroughly evaluate your situation and fight to ensure all responsible parties are held accountable for your losses.