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103 Lung Transplant Achievement is History in the Making

The Lung Transplant Program's multidisciplinary team discusses the 103 lung transplant achievement.

The Lung Transplant Program at Washington University School of Medicine celebrates its success in completing 103 lung transplants in 2019, the program’s highest number of lung transplants procedures completed in a year. The program, which now has performed 1,800 total lung transplants since 1988, has proven to be a cardinal expert in lung transplantation.

“Although we’re celebrating an accomplished year, it is more important to note that this year contributes to the 1,800 lung transplants our program has performed collectively over the last three decades,” says Varun Puri, MD, MSCI, Associate Surgical Director of the Lung Transplant Program.

Daniel Kreisel, MD, PhD, Surgical Director of the Lung Transplant Program adds, “Not only is Washington University one of the busiest and most successful lung transplant programs in the world, we are also at the forefront of basic and clinical research to improve outcomes for lung transplant patients.”

The Lung Transplant Program at Washington University consistently exceeds competitors in both volumes and positive outcomes; however, the program’s dedication to research is the foundation for such achievements. Kreisel, who is also the inaugural G. Alexander Patterson MD / Mid-America Transplant Endowed Distinguished Chair in Lung Transplantation, led Washington University researchers to discover new clues as to why lung transplants are vulnerable to antibody-mediated rejection, a condition that leads to death for many lung transplant recipients. They discovered a mechanism, in mice, that may prevent the rejection and possible therapies to treat the condition. This dedication to advancing medicine, in conjunction with patient care, positions Washington University as a true leader of transplantation.

These record-breaking numbers could not be achieved alone. It echoes years of collaborative work within the program’s multidisciplinary team of pulmonary physicians, thoracic surgeons, transplant coordinators, transplant pharmacists, respiratory therapists, dieticians, social workers, and financial coordinators. “The internal partnerships established within Washington University School of Medicine consistently allow patients to receive genuine tailored care,” says Ramsey Hachem, The Tracey C. Marshall – Dr. Elbert P. Trulock Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of the Lung Transplant Program.

Ruben Nava, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, explains the importance of multidisciplinary care with Varun Puri, MD, MSCI, Associate Surgical Director of the Lung Transplant Program (left) and Daniel Kreisel, MD, PhD, Surgical Director of the Lung Transplant Program (right).

“There’s no sole decision-maker. It is not just the person in the room thinking about you,” continues Chad Witt, MD, transplant pulmonologist in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. “It takes a village to provide clinical care correctly and Washington University unfailingly delivers,” adds Ruben Nava, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery.

Washington University’s Lung Transplant Program is beyond expected patient care. It provides a complete union of advanced technical skills, ground-breaking discoveries, and infinite teamwork. Although 2019 was a historic year, Derek Byers MD, PhD, clarifies, “We’re not focused on beating a record number in 2020. We all are working towards the ultimate goal of extending the lives of lung transplant recipients and that’s the goal we, as a program, will always be focused on.”