Lung Transplant

Your care is part of a comprehensive lung service dedicated to providing the most innovative treatment options to patients with advanced lung disease. In addition to our longstanding record of excellent patient outcomes and our commitment to your health, the University of Iowa lung transplant services offer:

  • A multidisciplinary transplant team
  • Coordinated care and communication with your referring physicians
  • Lifelong post-transplant monitoring and care
  • Quick decision for transplant readiness and shorter wait times for organ
  • Streamlined evaluation requiring only one visit to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

Based on the most recent group of transplants reported by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, our one-year graft survival rate for all lung transplants is 95.8 percent compared to the national survival rate of 88.9 percent. Our three-year survival rate is 76.8 percent compare to the national survival rate of 70.5 percent.

Lung transplant: Evaluation

The transplant decision is a complicated one and involves input from a lot of people, including you.

Our evaluation process has been carefully coordinated to meet the specific needs of your health history.

We have tried to schedule your entire evaluation to fit into one visit to the University of Iowa. We know that you may have traveled a long distance to get here and we want to be respectful of your time.

Every evaluation is different because every patient is unique. Typically, every evaluation includes an update of your health history, blood draw for routine laboratory tests, thorough history and physical exams, an assessment by a social worker, a review of your insurance by a financial counselor, and additional testing or consults as needed.

Medical evaluation

Potential lung transplant candidates will complete an evaluation process that includes a variety of blood tests, procedures, and consultations. Defining a clear picture of your health increases the likelihood of a successful outcome; therefore transplant candidates must undergo tests to determine their heart, lung, and kidney function. Multiple tubes of blood samples are needed to assess the function of your body's systems. Blood samples will also be used to screen for viruses, evidence of cancer, and tissue typing.


As part of your medical evaluation, you will meet with a team of doctors and auxiliary staff. These may include:

  • Transplant Surgeon
  • Pulmonologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Nutritionist
  • Dentist
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Transplant Coordinator
  • Social Worker

Educational conference

At the evaluation conference you will meet with a transplant coordinator, who is a registered nurse specializing in organ transplantation. During this meeting, the coordinator will describe all aspects of the transplant process.

You are encouraged to bring family and friends to this meeting. You will learn about how candidates are selected for transplantation, risks and benefits, complications of the procedure, hospital routines, and care after you leave the hospital.

During the educational session, you will have ample opportunity to ask questions and discuss your concerns. The transplant coordinator will assist you and your family through preparation, education, and listing on the donor registry.

Social services

The lung transplant team has a multidisciplinary approach, which stresses the importance of treating individuals as a whole. We recognize the importance of the patient's emotional and mental needs, as well as physical needs.

A transplant social services representative will meet with you at your evaluation. The social worker gathers information about you and your family, your coping abilities, substance abuse history, support systems, and ability to follow important post transplant instructions. This information helps the social worker determine your needs while you are in the hospital and how to better prepare you for the transplant experience. The social worker provides emotional support and information, helps plan for your discharge, and can help you explore appropriate groups and service agencies in your local community.

Approval for transplantation

When the evaluation is completed, the lung transplant committee will review the results of tests, procedures, and consultations. This committee, which meets weekly, consists of the nurses, physicians, social workers, and others who you have met throughout the evaluation process. All members contribute their opinion; and a decision is made with regard to further testing, additional treatment, and when you should be added to the waiting list.

If you are approved for transplantation, you will be placed on the recipient list of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Lung recipients are matched to donor according to blood type, tissue type, organ size, and waiting time on the list.

Lung Transplant: Your Best choice

The lung transplant program at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics is part of a comprehensive lung service dedicated to providing the most innovative treatment options to patients with advanced lung disease.

Our team performs single and bilateral lung transplantation for a wide array of respiratory disorders, including emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, connective tissue related lung disease, bronchiectasis, sarcoidosis, and pulmonary hypertension.

Our multidisciplinary team includes transplant specialists in pulmonary medicine, cardiothoracic surgery, infectious disease, nursing, social work, pharmacy, nutrition, and psychology. This group meets weekly to coordinate the care of all our patients. We are focused on the total well-being of each patient before, during, and after the transplant.

Iowa’s only Blue Designation Center® for transplant

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has recognized the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics as a Blue Distinction Center® for delivering quality transplant care.

Blue Distinction Centers® have demonstrated the delivery of quality specialty care based on objective, transparent measures for patient safety and health outcomes that were developed with input from the medical community. UI Hospitals & Clinics is the only Iowa health system to receive this designation.

The personal side of your care

The care and convenience afforded you at UI Hospitals & Clinics is unmatched. We work hard to assure your comfort during your evaluation, waiting period, and throughout the transplant process.

You will be assigned a transplant nurse coordinator who will stay with you throughout the evaluation, transplant listing, and post transplant experience.

Our Lung Transplant Outcomes

You should know that by choosing to have your transplant at the University of Iowa you have come to a program that performs consistently among the best programs in the country in terms of patient and graft outcomes.

Our outcomes exceed national averages and the outcomes that are expected for our center based on the severity of the patients that we transplant. We tend to transplant patients faster than in areas with higher populations. These shorter wait times mean there's less chance for our patients to die from their complications while waiting for a transplant.


We encourage you to research the outcome data provided by the Scientific Registry for Transplant Recipients.

By the numbers

Over the past several years, our adult one-year survival rate has been 100 percent. On average we perform about 17 lung transplants each year.

In 2011, the most recent year that figures were available, a national model for organ transplant rates predicted that University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics should perform an estimated 156.8 lung transplants per 100 person years (a total of time that all patients are waiting on a transplant recipient list). During that year, we instead had a lung transplant rate of 176.3 per 100 person years, outperforming that projection as well as the national average of 103.2.


Lung transplants per 100 person years (prediction)


Lung transplants per 100 person years (our actual score)

Source: Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients

Among our other distinctions

  • Our lung transplant program meets the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services Conditions for Participation.
  • The Iowa Business Council awarded the UI Organ Transplant Center an Iowa Partner in Efficiency Award in 2011 for its exceptional quality and service.

Care Team

Every member of our multidisciplinary team specializes in transplant care. Each one brings years of expertise to your transplant case.

Transplant Coordinators

  • Abigail Mack, RN, MNHP

Financial Coordinators

  • Becky Hix
  • Israel A. Cuevas