Advanced Heart and Lung Programs

A lung transplant removes damaged lungs and replaces them with healthy ones from a donor.

Healthy lungs allow for normal breathing, providing the amount of oxygen needed while removing carbon dioxide and other waste gases our bodies don’t need. It is upon developing end-stage lung failure—when the lungs can no longer remove waste gases or provide the oxygen necessary—when you may consider a lung transplant.

At the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), our team of specialists—made up of lung specialists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and transplant nurse coordinators—work together to determine if a lung transplant is right for you and provide the best care possible. 

Who Needs Lung Transplant Surgery?

People who qualify for a lung transplant are those likely to die from lung disease within two years. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, for which there is no cure or known cause, is the most common condition treated via lung transplant. Other conditions that cause end-stage lung failure requiring a lung transplant include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sarcoidosisinterstitial lung disease and primary pulmonary hypertension.

Depending on your condition, you may require a transplant for one or both lungs.

Patient Story: ECMO Key to Double-Lung Transplant Success for COVID-19 Patients

UMMC performed double-lung transplants for two patients whose lungs were extremely damaged by COVID-19. Read more about their story

Getting an Evaluation at a Lung Transplant Center

You, or your doctor, may request an evaluation for this procedure by calling the lung transplant center phone line (410-328-2864).

A lung transplant nurse coordinator will be your primary contact from your evaluation through your post-transplant care. They will begin by helping get your medical records from other doctors and providers. Then, we will review your and your family's medical history and conduct a thorough physical exam and other tests to determine the cause of your lung failure.

Also, you meet with your lung transplant team, to include lung specialists, surgeons and nurse practitioners who work with experienced specialists in the areas of anesthesiology, infectious disease, nutrition, physical therapy, psychiatry and social services. 

We welcome your family members and friends in your healthcare and social support network during this process. Additionally, we work with your doctor to review risks and benefits associated with the procedure and make sure lung transplant surgery is the best option for you.

Transplant Waiting List

If this procedure is the best treatment option, we will place you on our transplant waiting list, which is organized through the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). The wait time depends on the donor supply.

During the waiting period, we see you in our lung transplant center to help with any medical issues that may arise. You may also receive treatment via ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a type of artificial lung, until a donor lung is available.

Medical advances allowing for safe transplantation of organs from Hepatitis C-positive donors increase the donor pool and reduce the wait time for a lung transplant. When a donor lung becomes available, the transplant nurse coordinator calls you and the transplant surgeon checks the lung to make sure it is appropriate for use.

About the Procedure

Lung transplant surgery takes about eight hours. After surgery, you recover in the ICU until healthy enough to move to a step-down unit in the hospital. We carefully monitor for side effects or complications. Post-surgical monitoring includes:

  • Lung X-rays
  • Imaging scans of the lungs and airways
  • Biopsies (removal of small pieces of the lung[s] for examination to determine if there is any lung disease)

The main possible complication is that your new lung(s) may function poorly. In such case, we may explore lung ventilation or ECMO medical treatment.

Life After Lung Transplant Surgery

Immunosuppressant medications may help prevent rejection of your new lung(s). It's possible you may have to take them for the rest of your life. Before releasing you from the hospital, the transplant team ensures you feel comfortable and confident in caring for the new lung(s).

After leaving the hospital, you come to our outpatient clinic weekly for the first month to monitor progress through blood tests and exams. Then, after this initial period of intensive follow-up, we determine a regular appointment schedule.

As part of post-transplant care, we invite you to join the Heart and Lung Transplant Support Group, in which you can discuss your transplant journey with doctors, nurses and other pre- and post-transplant patients.


The University of Maryland lung transplant team sees patients with urgent or emergent conditions. For all non-urgent medical concerns, virtual appointments (video and/or phone consults) are available.

Please call 410-328-5408 to ask about telehealth availability.

Keeping You Safe During COVID-19

UMMC takes every safety precaution during your transplant procedure amid COVID-19, including:

  • Scheduling telemedicine appointments instead of in-person appointments, when possible
  • Maintaining a COVID-free floor for lung transplant patients
  • Testing all lung transplant recipients 48 to 72 hours prior to surgery and then quarantining them until surgery

Learn more about UMMC’s approach to treatment amid COVID-19 in this video.