Lung Transplant for Cystic Fibrosis

Surgery Overview

Lung transplant is an option for a few people who have severe lung problems that are caused by cystic fibrosis (CF). The procedure removes the diseased lungs and replaces them with healthy lungs from a recently deceased donor.

What To Expect

After lung transplant surgery, you will be cared for in the intensive care unit (ICU). You'll be put on a ventilator until you are able to breathe on your own. This may take from a few hours to a few days.

You will likely need to stay in the hospital for 2 to 3 weeks after the transplant.

You'll need to take antibiotics and medicines to suppress your immune system. This will raise the chances that your body will accept the new lungs.

Why It Is Done

Some people who have severe lung damage that was caused by CF may get a lung transplant. People with mild or moderate disease don't usually get a transplant, because the risks are greater than the benefits.

How Well It Works

Several tests can help your doctor and you see how well a lung transplant might work. These tests include lung function tests, arterial blood gas tests, and exercise capacity.

A lung transplant can give a person with severe lung damage from CF a better chance of survival. It can help them feel better and have more energy. And it may allow them to work, return to school, or reach other personal goals.


The main risks of lung transplant are problems during the surgery and rejection of the donated organs. Infection and rejection of transplanted organs have similar symptoms, including fever, tiredness, and trouble breathing.

After a lung transplant, preventive antibiotic therapy starts right away. You will also take immunosuppressant medicines, usually for the rest of your life. Although immunosuppressant medicines raise the chances that your body will accept the new lungs, they also make it harder for your body to fight off infection.


Current as of: August 6, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.