Can People Live With Only One Lung?

Nisian Hughes/Stone/Getty Images

People can live with only one lung. In fact, most people with only one lung live active, healthy lives and do not suffer any ill effects, according to Forbes. However, those with only one lung are more vulnerable to certain illnesses and diseases, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. While those with one lung may not be able to participate in strenuous activity, they can live full lives.

Called a pneumonectomy, the removal of one lung is often necessary to treat certain medical conditions, such as cancer and COPD. If one lung is not sufficient for a patient to survive due to advanced disease or breathing difficulties, a lung transplant may be performed, says Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Common conditions requiring a lung transplant include cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, fibrosis and some types of heart disease. According to John Hopkins Medicine, a whole lung or portions of a lung can be taken from a living, healthy donor for the transplant.

According to Live Science, Pope Francis had part of his lung removed as a teenager due to a serious illness. The Pope is now 76 years of age. Aside from watching out for potential illnesses, the Pope lives a normal life and does not require special treatment.