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UPMC Is The Largest Lung Transplant Center In The United States With Survival Rates Well Above National Average

PITTSBURGH, April 6, 2006 — The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is the largest volume lung transplantation center in the United States. In 2005, a record 91 such surgeries were performed, according to new data from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UPMC surgeons performed 61 lung transplants in 2004. Since 1982, they have performed 903 lung transplants (115 of which were combined heart/lung).

“Through a dedicated team of specialists, including cardiothoracic transplant surgeons, transplant pulmonologists, transplant coordinators, nurses, social workers and administrators, we have been able to get patients evaluated, listed and transplanted more quickly, including patients that would otherwise be turned down at other centers due to combined illnesses or combined organ failure. Additionally, through our novel immunosuppression therapies we have been able to better manage infection and rejection postoperatively, resulting in improved survival and a better quality of life for our patients,” says Kenneth R. McCurry, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of cardio-pulmonary transplantation at the UPMC Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery Institute.

As lung transplant volumes at UPMC have increased, outcomes also have improved. The medical center’s one-year survival rate of 88 percent far exceeds the national average of 81 percent; experiences with re-transplanting patients who experience chronic rejection after transplantation also have produced better than average results. For example, 18 lung re-transplants at UPMC completed during the past three years have generated a 100 percent one-year survival rate.

Recognized both nationally and internationally for clinical and research excellence, the UPMC lung and heart-lung transplant program offers state-of-the-art, cutting edge treatments, providing a viable option for patients with end-stage lung diseases. UPMC also continues to innovate to improve patient outcomes. Initial clinical trials at the University of Pittsburgh lead to the development of aerosol cyclosporine, which in the case of lung transplants, allows patients to breathe in the anti-rejection medication directly to the transplanted organ. A recent New England Journal of Medicine article jointly published by researchers now at the University of Maryland but formerly of the University of Pittsburgh, and current Pitt researchers showed that the inhaled drug dramatically improved survival rates after a lung transplant. Similar innovative ongoing therapy with Campath®, a drug that is given just prior to transplant to help achieve immune tolerance, also has resulted in improved outcomes.

Reasons for lung transplantation can vary, but primary reasons include pulmonary hypertension, emphysema, cystic fibrosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

For more information about lung transplantation at UPMC, visit

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