Heart-lung transplant operations have been performed since 1980 in the United States. The donated heart and lungs come from a human who has been declared brain-dead but remains on a life-support machine. A single recipient may receive one or both donor lungs. The tissues must be a match to help ensure that the patient does not reject the transplanted tissue. While the patient is deep asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), an incision is made through the breast bone (sternum). Tubes are used to re-route the blood to a heart-lung bypass machine that keeps the blood oxygenated and circulating during the surgery.
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