Purpose of review
The COVID-19 pandemic revolutionized the field of lung transplantation, as lung transplant is now an acceptable life-saving therapy for select patients with COVID-19-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), while prior to the pandemic, few transplants were performed for ARDS. This review article details the establishment of lung transplantation as a viable therapy for COVID-19-related respiratory failure, how to evaluate COVID-19 patients for lung transplant, and specific technical considerations for the operation.
Lung transplantation is a life-altering treatment for two distinct cohorts of COVID-19 patients: those with irrecoverable COVID-19-associated ARDS and those who recover from the initial COVID-19 insult but are left with chronic, debilitating post-COVID fibrosis. Both cohorts require stringent selection criteria and extensive evaluation to be listed for lung transplantation. As the first COVID-19 lung transplantation was recently performed, long-term outcomes are lacking; however, short-term outcome data of COVID-19-related lung transplants are promising.
Given the challenges and complexities associated with COVID-19-related lung transplantation, strict patient selection and evaluation are required with an experienced multidisciplinary team at a high-volume/resource center. With promising short-term outcome data, ongoing studies are needed to assess long-term outcomes of COVID-19-related lung transplants.