The first successful human lung transplant was performed at the University of Mississippi in 1963 by Dr. James Hardy. While the patient survived for only 18 days, this procedure opened the doors for further development of the field. Few lung transplants were performed until 1981 when Dr. Norman Shumway and Dr. Bruce Reitz performed the first successful heart-lung transplant at Stanford University.
Ochsner's newly-revived Lung Transplant Program has performed eleven transplants since February, saving lives among end-stage lung disease patients from Louisiana and Mississippi.
Before Hurricane Katrina halted the program in 2005, it averaged about 15 lung transplants annually, says Dr. Leonardo Seoane, Co-Medical Director, Lung Transplantation. The new program is evaluating about 16 referrals a month; three patients are currently listed for transplant, and the wait time for transplant has remained very brief. The program hopes to grow to perform at least 20 transplants annually.
Because there is not a lung transplant center from Birmingham to Houston - and with our state's high rate of smokers and end-stage lung disease - the need is great. Dr. Seoane explains, "We've redeveloped our program to bring the best possible resources to patients close to home. We knew we could perform lung transplants at an unsurpassed level and we are committed to unite an experienced team to do exactly that."
The team consists of transplant pulmonologists, Dr. Reinaldo Rampolla and Dr. Seoane; primary transplant surgeon, Dr. Michael Bates; and cardiothoracic surgeons, Dr. Abbas Abbas, Dr. Gene Parrino, and Dr. Jose Mena. In addition, the team also includes specially trained anesthesiologists and experienced staff in transplant coordination, social services, pharmacy, nursing, and dietary.
Though less common than other transplants, lung transplants are resource intensive and carry a higher risk of rejection. Lung transplants are usually performed on patients with pulmonary hypertension, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Harvested lungs require extremely delicate handling, and even the life-sustaining ventilator poses a threat after surgery. Yet, patients often have no other options.
Dr. Seoane adds, "It has been difficult for insurance reasons and practical reasons for lung transplant candidates to move to centers out of state. This is why our program is so important. Ochsner is proud to offer patients from our region this life saving procedure."
With lung transplantation, the Ochsner Multi-Organ Transplant Institute continues to develop its clinical and laboratory research resources in all aspects of transplantation, even the most complex and rare.
To refer a patient, call 504-842-3925.