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Lung Donors Give the Gift of Breath

By HERWriter
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Lung Facts
Every cell in your body uses oxygen and produces a waste product called carbon dioxide. When you breathe in your lungs receive oxygen and transfer it to your blood so it can be carried to every tissue in your body. Your lungs also receive carbon dioxide from your blood and eliminate it from your body when you breathe out. When you are healthy, you probably don’t think about the work your lungs are doing. But if your lungs become congested, you will quickly realize how important your lungs are to your overall health.

Why people need lung transplants
Many diseases can affect your lungs’ ability to work correctly. Some conditions affect their ability to take in air while others prevent the lungs from transferring oxygen to the blood. Still other conditions make it difficult to breathe out so more air can be taken in. If your lungs are not working well, you may feel tired and short of breath. When this becomes an on-going condition, your quality of life will be affected. Doctors can prescribe oxygen which can be administered through tubes that are placed in the nose. But when the lungs are badly damaged, even being on supplemental oxygen cannot fix the problem and the final resort to save your life may be a lung transplant.

The need for lung donations
Because each person has two lungs, if only one lung is damaged, it is possible to maintain quality of life with the remaining healthy lung. If both lungs are damaged, one or both may need to be replaced. Approximately 1,160 people have received donor lungs so far in 2010 and another 1,800 people are currently on the waiting list to receive a lung transplant. Most lungs become available for transplant when someone dies who volunteered to be an organ donor. But the need for lungs is much greater than the available number of lungs.

In some cases, lungs may be donated by living donors. But a living donor cannot give an entire lung. So doctors will need to find multiple people who are each willing to donate one lobe of a lung. This allows doctors to piece together a complete lung for the recipient.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.