Pulmonary Fibrosis kills, and not in a pleasant way. There is a strict criteria patients with pulmonary fibrosis have to ‘fit’ before being referred to a wait list for lungs. Some patients can survive with a ‘partial’ transplant… i.e, one lobe. Others need a double lung transplant – like the man who was the subject of the brief report on Saturday evening news.
There is a long list of criteria a prospective recipient must meet. (See list at the end.)
The subject of the news report, at 66 yrs of age is at the upper end of being suitable for a lung transplant…
“The man’, rushed to Adelaide Airport with wife son on Thursday to catch a flight to Sydney.
Waiting for them at St Vincent’s Hospital were the donor lungs he had been wanting for 26 months. The man suffers the suffocating lung condition pulmonary fibrosis where scars on lung tissue reduce oxygen supply to the blood resulting in perpetual shortness of breath.
The Adelaide Advertiser with identifying details removed.
The hospital had booked the flight from Adelaide to Sydney where an ambulance would take him from the flight to the hospital. But when the family arrived at Adelaide Airport what is called ‘a booking mixup’ denied the man the flight. He was booked on a later flight…”
but too late for the transplant!
The news report says… ‘Suffocating lung condition pulmonary fibrosis’ yes, it is correct, ‘perpetual shortness of breath’ this is correct as far as it goes.
However, pulmonary fibrosis kills… and it is not a pleasant death. Someone suffering from this lung disease is smothered by his or her own lungs. All the ‘speckling’ on the lung on the left are areas where the fibrosis has taken the normal elasticity of the lung. In other words, breathing is already limited.
Pulmonary Fibrosis is a death sentence!
Put your head in a pillow case and see how long you are able to cope before tearing it off so you can take a ‘proper’ breath. People who suffer from pulmonary fibrosis can never take a ‘proper’ breath after the disease takes more and more of the lung(s). I know, I was sitting with my husband when he died from this dreadful condition.
Lung transplant is the only hope for sufferers.
The man on the news had been waiting 26 months.
Availability of donor lungs
Some patients will only wait a few days or weeks for their transplant but most will wait between 6 -18 months.
“Not everyone who is accepted on to the waiting list will receive a transplant. Unfortunately, some 10-15% of patients on the waiting list will either become so sick that they could not receive a transplant safely, or they will die from their lung disease before a lung becomes available.”
Lung foundation, Australia. http://lungfoundation.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Lung-Transplantation_FS-Dec2015.pdf
Qantas has been in contact with the family to offer support in the difficult circumstances.
The truth of the matter is that Qantas was the cause of the man’s inability to obtain the double lung transplant. What support can they give… another set of lungs? That would be the only acceptable compensation to the dying man and his family.
In the unlikely event of another pair of compatible lungs being available, another wife will sit by her husband’s bedside as he literally fights for every tiny bit of oxygen his diseased lungs will be able to extract from the oxygen therapy he will be on.
I have walked that road.
Shame on you Qantas!
I write from the point of view of a wife whose husband died from this dreadful and cruel disease.
Therefore I admit to having a bias because of my knowledge of the disease. I have no knowledge of the circumstances of the person or persons in this report.
Details about lung transplants…
“While a transplant center is free to set its own criteria for transplant candidates, certain requirements are generally agreed upon:
- end-stage lung disease;
- has exhausted other available therapies without success;
- no other chronic medical conditions (e.g., heart, kidney, liver);
- no current infections or recent cancer. There are certain cases where pre-existing infection is unavoidable, as with many patients with cystic fibrosis. In such cases, transplant centers, at their own discretion, may accept or reject patients with current infections of B. cepacia or MRSA;
- no HIV or hepatitis;
- no alcohol, smoking, or drug abuse;
- within an acceptable weight range (marked undernourishment or obesity are both associated with increased mortality);
- age (single vs. double tx);
- acceptable psychological profile;
- has social support system;
- financially able to pay for expenses (where medical care is paid for directly by the patient);
- able to comply with post-transplant regimen. A lung transplant is a major operation, and following the transplant, the patient must be willing to adhere to a lifetime regimen of medications as well as continuing medical care.
The potential recipient will also have to pass complicated medical tests including tissue typing and blood types must match also.