Lung Donation: Everything You Need to Know About Lungs

The functioning and importance of lungs is fairly straightforward. You need your lungs to breathe. Breathing in gets oxygen to the red blood cells, and the red blood cells distribute the oxygen to all parts of the body. When the red blood cells give up their oxygen, they absorb carbon dioxide. When you breathe out, this carbon dioxide is expelled.


Many people are surprised to see how relatively small human lungs are when they see real or realistic models of them. But, the lungs really aren’t that small. The lung has about 600 million tiny air sacs called alveoli. If they could be spread out flat and laid side by side, they would cover about 600 square feet. They weigh about three pounds.

The two lungs are pyramid shaped and made up of spongy tissue. They're found in the chest cavity, extend to the space behind your collarbone and rest on your diaphragm, a muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen. Your heart, esophagus and a complex of large blood vessels are found between your lungs. The lungs are divided into lobes. The right lung has three, and the left lung has two to make room for your heart. Instead of a third lobe, it has a structure called a cardiac notch.


People need lung transplants for multiple reasons. These include pulmonary fibrosis, severe cases of cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary hypertension, heart disease and fatal, genetically acquired diseases that affect their lungs, and more.


According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 34,383 people have donated lungs between 1988 and 2017. The great majority of the donors were deceased, though 478 were living. These people donated a lobe of their lung. This is an option for you if you are healthy and a non-smoker. You can live a perfectly normal and healthy life after you’ve donated a lobe of your lung.

You can sign up to be a donor on the Department of Health and Human Services donation page or through our website. Remember, you can be a live donor when it comes to lung transplant! Do not be afraid to sign up to donate your lungs or any other organ. You will almost certainly save or improve someone’s life!