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March 24, 2006

UPMC lung transplant service largest in nation

With the release of the 2005 national data, UPMC has emerged as the largest lung transplantation center in the United States, performing an unprecedented 91 transplants last year. An aggressive approach to organ procurement, path-breaking protocols for less damaging treatment of donor organs, and an ability to offer transplantation successfully to patients with complex and comorbid disease have helped fuel this growth.

More important, says Kenneth McCurry, MD, director, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplantation Program, is the fact that as transplant volume has increased, UPMC outcomes have continued to improve. UPMC’s current three-month and one-year survival rates of greater than 97 and 88 percent, respectively, are both significantly higher than the national averages of 91 and 81 percent.

These outcomes are all the more remarkable given the cases that UPMC specialists undertake — 15 percent of the patients in 2005 were rejected for transplantation elsewhere, and more than 75 percent had illness other than emphysema, which has a better prognosis for transplantation than other terminal lung diseases, says Joseph Pilewski, MD, medical director. In addition, UPMC patients experienced shorter waiting times than the national average. UPMC’s lung transplant program is a joint effort of the Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery Institute and the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine.

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