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Asbestosis and the Lung Transplant Option

You rarely hear doctors mention asbestosis and lung transplant in the same sentence for several reasons. First and foremost because asbestosis has to be extremely advanced before a lung transplant can even be considered. Second, there are very few donors available at any given time for a lung transplant. Third, it is often difficult for patients to get approval from their insurance carriers, who dont necessarily feel that asbestosis and lung transplantation are compatible.

Why Many Patients Cant Get Lung Transplants

The difficulty of finding an available donor (an individual with healthy lungs who is brain dead but sustained on life support until harvesting of the lungs) is complicated by the extremely complex matching process. The donor and recipient must be similar in age and weight and have matching blood types. The donors lung x-ray must be clear of any defects and the recipient must be sick enough to be on the waiting list while conversely being healthy enough to survive the extensive surgery.

Treating asbestosis with a lung transplant cant even be considered until the patient has a prognosis of only one to two years left to live. By this time, the scarring of the lungs is extensive and breathing is severely compromised, causing intense discomfort. Because the latency period for asbestosis is so long, many patients are also too old to be considered for a transplant by the time the disease advances because the age threshold for transplant is set relatively low (55 or younger, while many patients with asbestosis are in their mid-fifties or older).

If you have asbestosis and a lung transplant is determined to be a viable option for you, be sure you get on the donor waiting list immediately. You should also contact an attorney treatment for asbestosis and the extensive surgery involved in transplanting a lung are expensive and you may be able to claim damages against the company that originally exposed you to the asbestos that caused your condition.

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