Advances in cystic fibrosis (CF) treatment have resulted in people living longer healthier lives, however some people will still require an organ transplant to further prolong their lives. Most commonly this will be lung transplantation, but may also be the liver or pancreas.

Lung Transplant

Lung transplant surgery is an end-stage treatment that replaces both diseased lungs with healthy donor lungs. The main goal of lung transplantation in CF is to extend life expectancy and improve your quality of life.

The workup for transplant is extremely thorough and extensive. All body systems are screened and treatment is provided to optimise lung function, nutrition and mental wellbeing. The guidelines for consideration for lung transplant in people with CF are:

  • low lung function (FEV1 < 30% predicted or a rapid decline, especially in females)
  • exacerbation requiring ICU admission (intensive care unit)
  • increasing requirements for antibiotics
  • pneumothorax (air leak into the space between the lung and chest wall)
  • uncontrolled haemoptysis (coughing of blood)
  • a significant decline in quality of life

There may be reasons why you would choose not to have a transplant or may not be a suitable candidate. It is important to discuss your options with your CF team.

If you do decide to go ahead with a transplant, you will be added to the wait list. Some patients only wait a few days or weeks for their transplant, but most wait between 6 – 18 months.

Post-transplant management is onerous and requires multiple medications including anti-rejection and antibiotics, lung function monitoring and regular sputum sampling.

Australia has some of the best transplant results in the world and accordingly, survival after a lung transplant is higher in Australia than anywhere else. Most patients report returning to a relatively normal life after their lung transplant.

Transplant Support

We offer support to individuals and their carers, both before and after transplant. Pre-transplant support services may include:

  • Increased homecare worker support
  • Cleaning package
  • Counselling
  • E-mentoring/peer support

Post-transplant support services may include:

  • Personal training
  • Annual support event
  • Counselling
  • E-mentoring/peer support

For more information see our Transplant Services flyer.

For more information on lung transplantation see the Lung Transplant factsheet or contact our Social Worker via email ( or phone 08 6457 7333.

We have produced a booklet containing some of our members personal transplant journeys. See our Positive Profiles booklet.

Other Resources

Cystic Fibrosis South Australia (CFSA) have created a series of interviews with lung transplant recipients, asking them about their experiences before and after receiving a lung transplant. Click here to view now.

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