The Lung Transplantation Program at NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Irving Medical Center — one of the top lung transplant programs in the country — marked a major milestone recently by performing its 1,000th lung transplant.
“This is a remarkable achievement, and we are incredibly proud of our outstanding pulmonary transplant doctors, coordinators, and transplant specialists who work hand-in-hand with our transplant nurses, perfusionists, anesthesiologists, intensivists, and the entire surgical team every step of the way,” said Dr. Craig R. Smith, surgeon-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and chair of the Department of Surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The first joint heart and lung transplant service began at Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian in 1988, when lung transplantation was still new to the medical community. Since the Lung Transplantation Program’s revitalization and recruitment of Drs. Joshua R. Sonett and Selim M. Arcasoy in 2001, it has been transformed into one of the country’s top centers for advanced lung disease and lung transplantation, from performing fewer than 20 cases to now more than 80 per year.
“This team has transformed the program that began in 1988 into one of the highest-quality and highest-volume lung transplant programs in the world,” said Dr. Smith, who is also the Valentine Mott Professor of Surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
In addition to volume, another important facet of the Lung Transplantation Program is its willingness to take on more complex cases.
“Despite working with a sicker patient population, we have been able to achieve excellent outcomes after a lung transplant,” said Dr. Arcasoy, medical program director of lung transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Dickinson W. Richards, Jr. Professor of Medicine (Pediatrics) at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “This is in part due to the collaborative approach and multidisciplinary care that we have promoted and practiced from day one,” said Dr. Arcasoy.
Over the years, improved treatment options have allowed patients to live longer and wait for a transplant despite their severe illness. One such treatment, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), has been offered for more than a decade to patients awaiting transplant at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. More recently, the lung transplant program has successfully transplanted lungs from hepatitis C-positive donors and performed combined heart-lung and lung-kidney transplants.
Future innovations are being developed within the lung transplant team, including advancing research on national lung allocation policy (a grading system used by the United Network for Organ Sharing to assign priority for distributing donated lungs for transplantation); understanding the immunological processes that lead to organ rejection; developing immune-tolerance strategies; and furthering the surgical team’s ability to repair damaged donor lungs to treat more patients in need.
“This is an incredible milestone — a time to reflect and appreciate all the hard work that made this possible,” said Dr. Sonett, chief of general thoracic surgery and director of the Price Family Center for Comprehensive Chest Care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Edward C. and Anne K. Weiskopf Professor of Surgical Oncology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “It’s also an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to continuing to provide the best possible care to our patients and remember the beautiful gifts from the organ donors.”
For more information about the Lung Transplantation Program, click here.