Explore This Treatment

About the Program

Founded in 1990, the Lung Transplant Program at Massachusetts General Hospital was the first Medicare-approved lung transplant program in New England. Our major milestones include:

  • Establishing New England’s first live donor lung transplant program in 1995
  • Performing New England’s first living related lung donor transplant

We perform transplants from both living and deceased donors and maintain the region’s largest Living Donor Program.

A Personal Care Team for Every Patient

The primary goal of lung transplantation is to help patients live longer, better quality lives. At the Transplant Center, we bring together a personal care team of lung disease specialists to provide comprehensive treatment for every patient. This team meets regularly with patients and referring physicians and includes:

  • Cardiologists
  • Critical care specialists
  • Endocrinologists
  • Financial services representatives
  • Immunologists
  • Infectious disease specialists
  • Nutritionists
  • Pharmacists
  • Physical therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Social workers
  • Thoracic surgeons
  • Thoracic nurses
  • Transplant coordinators
  • Transplant nurses

Transplant Evaluation

The goal for every patient is to optimize his or her lifestyle and offer the best possible outcomes. All patients are carefully evaluated to see if they are candidates for transplant or if their condition can be managed through alternative interventions, including:

  • Clinical investigations related to prescribed medications including corticosteroids and antibiotics
  • Gene-therapy studies, which involve transplanting genetic material into the patient’s tissues rather than transplanting a whole or partial organ
  • Non-transplant surgical therapies, such as lung volume reduction surgery, which involves removing portions of the damaged lung
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, which helps patients with lung conditions learn to improve their quality of life

The Lung Allocation Score System (LAS)

Unlike other organ transplantation programs, which apply a seniority method to determine a patient’s position on the organ donor list, the Lung Transplant Program utilizes a unique system based on patients’ transplant urgency. This mathematical model, called the lung allocation score system and used by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), ensures that patients who most need a lung transplant receive priority over those in better health.

Patient Care

Our dedicated team of transplantation management experts offers comprehensive treatment for patients who require transplantation due to a variety of conditions, including:

  • Bronchiectasis: obstructive lung disease causing irreversible bronchial tree dilation
  • Cystic fibrosis: inherited disease of the mucus and sweat producing glands
  • Emphysema: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease due to a loss of lung tissue elasticity
  • Pulmonary hypertension: high blood pressure in arteries that supply the lungs
  • Pulmonary fibrosis: lung scarring that inhibits oxygenation of the blood
  • Sarcoidosis: inflammation that produces nodules in organs including the lungs
  • Various other interstitial lung diseases

Comprehensive, Coordinated Care

All lung transplant candidates work with a transplant coordinator, who lays the groundwork for their initial evaluation by gathering their medical information, previous test results and patient medical history, including prior hospitalizations.

The coordinator then manages the patient evaluation, which includes:

  • A social worker’s appraisal
  • An echocardiogram
  • Assessment of the need for an ECMO device, when appropriate
  • Blood work
  • Chest X-rays
  • Comprehensive patient education sessions
  • Pulmonary functioning tests, including exercise studies
  • Radiology

Pre-Transplant Care

Our patients’ care teams work with them and their local physician to address health care issues that might develop as they wait for transplant. We help our patients maintain the highest quality of life possible through the use of supplemental oxygen and prescribed medications.

We also provide a dedicated referral line for patients and referring physicians to be connected with an experienced access coordinator, a clinician who helps assess patient needs, coordinate appointments and begin the appropriate testing regimen. All calls will be returned within 24 hours.

Post-Transplant Care

Our commitment to our patients’ wellbeing extends to their postoperative needs and includes help coordinating their care following discharge. We are very involved in our patients’ physical recovery support them as they transition back to their regular lives following transplant.

Clinical Research and Trials

The Lung Transplant Program is a regional research center with an active clinical trials program in both lung transplantation and many of the diseases that cause the need for transplantation. Developing technologies include:

  • Medical treatment: We are part of a multicenter trial of a new drug to treat pulmonary fibrosis
  • Stem cell transplantation: We are studying stem cell transplantation as a way to replace airways and whole lungs and to improve our understanding of how airways heal in order to achieve better transplantation results

Surgical Outcomes for the Lungs

The Center for Outcomes & Patient Safety in Surgery (COMPASS) ensures that surgical data is transparent and accessible for patients. Watch the video to view Mass General's performance for procedures to treat conditions of the lungs.