Friday, February 20, 2009

Living-related lobar transplant

In case you don't know what happens in this type of lung transplant, I'll explain it here, or you can go here for diagrams and a more medical explanation.

Everyone has 3 parts or lobes to their right lung and 2 lobes on the left. When a person receives a lobar transplant, both of their lungs are removed and replaced with lobes from 2 different donors. In my case, it was my mom and my uncle. They removed both of my lungs, and replaced them with my uncle's right lower lobe, and my mom's left lower lobe. Now, my uncle has only 2 lobes on his right side, and my mom has only 1 lobe on her left.

The surgeons turned the lobes sideways in order for them to fit into my chest cavity. So, I have only 2 lobes.. one on the right side and one on the left side. At first, they looked small on the chest xray, but it didn't take them long to expand (think of blowing up a balloon) and fill the space where my old lungs were. They don't grow, like a liver does, they just expand.

Because I received only lobes, I will never have a lung capacity like someone who received full lungs does, but I have 100% (or close to it) oxygen saturation.

The reason I had to receive lobes from a relative is because I developed anti-human antibodies when I was pregnant with Casey. Everyone has a small amount of these antibodies in their blood, but I had so many that it made me incompatible with 96% of the general population. Finding that 4% would have taken a long time, and at the time, I didn't have that long to live, so they started testing family members and friends too (just in case they might be a match), to see if I was compatible with them. My mom's brother Joel was a match, and my sister Renee was a match. After doing some testing on my sister, they found out she had mild asthma and couldn't be a donor. They didn't test my mom right away because she is 3" shorter than me. They prefer your donor to be at least the same height so that their lobe will be of adequate size. When I got so sick that they knew it wouldn't be long before I died, they decided to go ahead and test my mom. She was not only a match, but her lungs were large for her size (just like her kidney, which is huge.. haha).

My friends Lori and Katey both had lobar transplants too. If you would like to read my lung transplant story (I'll warn you, it's very long), you can go here.


OceanDesert said...

That is SO interesting! I had an idea of how it worked, but that's really cool!!!!

One ? - Did you ask your family/friends to get tested or did they volunteer? I always wondered how that is approached, you know?

BTW, I clicked on that first link that you posted in my Comments and it said "not authorized to view this page, etc." ... and of course, you look fantastic as always in that second link! :)

Christy said...

That's weird Sara. It was on my caringbridge site.

No, I didn't ask them.. they found out about it and volunteered. There was a write up in my local paper, so a lot of people found out that way that I needed another donor. People who didn't even know me called Duke wanting to be tested, but Duke's policy is that a living donor has to personally know the recipient.. it's an ethical thing. You wouldn't believe the generosity of so many people. It was amazing. :)

Courtney said...

Thanks for sharing, I never reallly knew how it worked out either. Reading your comment on how total strangers calling to see if they can donate totally brought tears to my eyes. That is just awsome!

Natalia Ritchie said...

As a CF patient I have never heard of this option. I have many friends whom have double lung transplants, but never a living lobar transplant. Thank you for writing about this, it is great information.

Christy said...

I really don't think Duke has done any in awhile. I'm not sure why, but I heard they just aren't using this as an option that much anymore.

I was told that I could never receive a second lung transplant because of my antibody issue, and the fact that I had "used up" my donors, but since the new med Rituximab was brought on the market, I would now be able to have a transplant from a cadaver. Rituximab actually lowers your antibody count. It's a miracle drug in a lot of ways. You may remember Tricia from Confessions of a CF husband was on it for her lymphoma. It's used for that too.

Carolyn said...

Wow! That is amazing! It is good to have this info!! I didn't realize they did lung transplants with living donors!!

Aubrey said...

OMGoodness! How interesting. So amazing what Drs are able to do.

Carrie said...

How amazing! I have a friend who is a professor at U of M who works specifically on Lung related research. I bet he'd like to read your story!

Carrie said...

Wow! That is so interesting and awesome. I am glad to read's amazing the things that can be done! Isn't that so wonderful how total strangers would be willing to do such a huge thing? What a gift your mom and uncle gave to you....that is a powerful story.

Lil' Chris' Mom said...

Thanks for sharing this. I was wondering ever since I first started reading your blog and saw your profile.
PS. God bless your mom and uncle:)