What to expect during recovery and possible complications
You can expect to spend a variable time in the ICU, normally up to one week and in total, around 3 to 4 weeks admitted to the hospital.
During that time, your incisions will heal, your pain will improve and drains and lines would be removed. Your team will also closely monitor the function of your new lungs.
The most feared complications at that time are rejection and infection.
Rejection is a complication secondary to the immune reaction started in your body when it recognizes your new lung as a foreign organ. For this reason, taking immunosuppressants as prescribed for the rest of your life is critical for preventing the rejection of your new lung or lungs.
On the counter side, anti-rejection medications interfere with the normal response of the immune system, so they will make you more vulnerable to infection. If you have an infection, it will require antibiotic, anti-viral, or anti-fungal treatment for a couple of weeks. Furthermore, you may need to take some medications regularly to prevent specific types of infections.
It is a usual practice to have you return to the hospital regularly on an scheduled basis for the first months (Sometimes once a week) after the operation, to monitor the health of your new lungs and to adjust your medications, trying to find the minimum dose of immunosuppressive medication to prevent chronic rejection but also to minimize the risk of infections and adverse events.