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Care at the Highest Caliber: Transplant Team Celebrates 2000th Lung Transplant

In 1988, a team of leading innovative surgeons established the Lung Transplant Program at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Since its inception, the program has made massive strides in the advancement of transplant care and research and has continued to shatter national and international records while maintaining a quality level of care for each patient.

The program’s most recent achievement is a truly impressive one: on January 4, 2023, Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center saw the completion of their 2,000th lung transplant.

Only three other transplant centers in the nation currently boast the same accomplishment, including the Cleveland Clinic Lung Transplant Program, The Duke Lung Transplant Clinic and the Transplant Program at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“Our program is the fourth lung transplant program in the US to reach this milestone of 2000 transplants, and one of very few programs worldwide,” says Ramsey Hachem, MD, who serves as medical program director. “As a team, we are proud of this achievement and look forward to continuing to provide excellent care to patients with advanced lung disease through transplantation.”

The lung transplant team has consistently worked at an impressive pace to provide the best cutting edge care to transplant patients since the very beginning. Joel Cooper, MD, who first established the program, was a key innovator in the development of single- and double-lung transplants. Elbert Trulock, MD was a medical supervisor for one of the first successful lung transplants – performed at Washington University Medical Center – and served as the program’s first medical director. G. Alexander Patterson, MD, served as the first director of the program and still continues his work at Washington University within the Department of Surgery. Today, the program is led by Surgical Program Director Daniel Kreisel, MD, PhD, and Medical Program Director Ramsey Hachem, MD.

In recent years, the lung transplant program has worked tirelessly to improve patient care and reduce wait times to get patients off waitlists and into operating rooms. In 2019, the lung transplant team broke records by performing 103 transplants in a single year. In 2021, they celebrated the landmark of completing 1,900 lung transplants.  

“Our program performs consistently amongst the highest volumes of lung transplants in the country. We are a referral center for complex patients who are not considered for lung transplantation at other centers,” says Kreisel. “In addition to our clinical program, our group has one of the most productive research programs in lung transplantation. We are conducting clinical trials, performing clinical research and our laboratories have contributed to our understanding of lung transplantation biology.”

Though the numbers are impressive, patient care remains paramount. Throughout the course of the program’s history, the dedicated surgeons and doctors on the team have vastly improved short- and long-term outcomes which consistently remain above national averages. In collaboration with Mid-America Transplant, the program has managed to reduce wait times and proudly offers more options for more patients, even those considered too high risk for other centers.

Our team recognizes that quality and outstanding outcomes are more important than volume,” says Hachem. “We are dedicated to providing the best possible care for our patients and understand that a multidisciplinary approach is critical for success.”

With a well-rounded team dedicated to both research and care, Washington University Lung Transplant provides an innovation-focused approach to continue advancing the field of transplant surgery into the future and continues looking forward toward the horizon.

For more information on the services provided by the transplant team or to make an appointment, see the link below: