Lung Transplant Program Provides International Support

Medical professionals from Mexico's National Institute of Respiratory Diseases visit Washington University School of Medicine. Back row, from left: Ricardo Alfonso Sandoval Padilla (pulmonologist), Guillermo Oscar Garza Jiménez (thoracic surgery), Patricio Santillan Doherty (Medical Director of thoracic surgery), Jesús Carranza Sarmina (thoracic surgery), Ruben G. Nava (Washington University Thoracic Surgery). Front row, from left: Ricardo Eli Guido Guerra (anesthesiologist), Carmen Margarita Hernández Cárdenas (intensivist), Teresa de Jesús Aguirre Pérez (pulmonologist), Juana Abigail Norberto de la Vega (anesthesiologist), Julio de Jesus Herrera Zamora (coordinator), Victor Manuel Mendoza Romero (pulmonologist), Francina Valezka Bolanos Morales (Chief of Thoracic Surgery).

A group of medical professionals from the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER) in Mexico City, Mexico, visited Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis this Feb. for a week of training in lung transplantation. Ruben Nava, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery from the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, hosted the group as they attended a series of meetings and presentations on all aspects of lung transplant surgery. The subjects of these trainings ranged from the logistics of lung transplants to procedure techniques and anesthesia, donor evaluation and postoperative care.

Thoracic surgeon Jesús Carranza Sarmina is optimistic about the future of lung transplantation in Mexico City. 

The goal of this budding relationship between the School of Medicine and INER is to develop a new lung transplant program in Mexico. “Lung disease does not have to reach terminal stages,” says INER thoracic surgeon Jesús Carranza Sarmina.

Past programs in Mexico have had mixed success, leading to many patients traveling internationally to seek treatment for lung conditions. In the future, access to a high-quality lung transplant program will improve patient outcomes in Mexico. This future program, the team from INER says, will benefit from being influenced by the excellent team at Washington University.

Carmen Margarita Hernández Cárdenas, an intensivist from INER, noted the value of spending this time with Washington University specialists: “We can take what we have learned here and put this information to work in order to optimize our resources.” The INER team acknowledges that this is not an easy task—acquiring the necessary funding and resources to develop a lung transplant program will take time and effort—but the ongoing relationship with Nava and the Lung Transplant Program at the School of Medicine provides an excellent entry point.

The Washington University Lung Transplant Program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, which completed 103 lung transplants in 2019, is among the most active and successful programs of its kind anywhere in the world. This international recognition from the team of INER medical professionals reinforces the fact that the program is an authority of the highest order when it comes to lung transplantation.

Pulmonologist Ricardo Padilla describes the INER visit to Washington University as “a comprehensive view of the lung transplant program.”