How lungs work

When you inhale, you breathe in air (oxygen) which goes to your lungs. Your heart pumps blood to your lungs where oxygen is added to your blood. This oxygen-rich blood travels throughout your body. It delivers oxygen to all the cells in your body, and removes carbon dioxide. This blood returns to the heart so it can be pumped back to the lungs where it will discard the carbon dioxide and receive more oxygen. The carbon dioxide leaves your body when you breathe out.

Signs of lung failure

When someone's lungs are not working properly, they may have these symptoms: shortness of breath, fatigue, lack of oxygen in the blood, and difficulty exercising.

Who needs a lung transplant?

Lung disease may be congenital (a condition that you are born with) or may result from toxins, such as tobacco smoke or asbestos. Common causes of severe lung damage include include: emphysema (which may be related to smoking), alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (an inherited illness), cystic fibrosis (an inherited illness), and pulmonary fibrosis (lung scarring that can result from several causes). Both single lung and double lung transplants are possible, depending on the person's disease. When people have both a heart and lung disease, then they will need a combined heart-lung transplant.

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Last Updated July 22, 2008 | © 2007, LHSC, London Ontario Canada