Jan. 15, 2014
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has started a pediatric lung transplant program. The hospital will be one of the few in the country capable of performing transplants for infants as small as 11 pounds, hospital officials said.
The program also will make it possible for the medical center to perform heart-lung transplants and other multiple organ transplants when needed.
Doctors at Children’s “will begin evaluating patients for transplant in the coming weeks,” spokesman Jim Feuer said in an e-mail. When the first transplant will occur is uncertain because it depends on so many factors, including the availability of donor lungs.
Surgeons at Children’s have performed more than 90 heart transplants. The hospital also has extensive experience in other pediatric organ transplantation, including more than 525 liver transplants, 583 kidney transplants and 40 intestinal transplants.
Cincinnati Children’s also has one of the nation’s largest programs for pulmonary disease, which was recently ranked No. 2 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report magazine.
Adding the lung transplant programs allows the hospital to provide “a complete spectrum of pulmonology care and rounds out the medical center’s capabilities for … transplantation,” Feuer said. In addition, having a lung transplant program in Cincinnati allows local families to receive care here instead of traveling to St. Louis or other centers for such services.
Currently, only two U.S. hospitals perform more than 10 pediatric lung transplants a year. Cincinnati Children’s officials say their goal is to reach that level within three years. Since 1988, there have been approximately 1,100 pediatric lung transplants performed in the U.S.
Patients are considered for lung transplant when their lung disease cannot be significantly improved by medical or surgical therapies and when there is a high chance of death. Many types of lung disease may lead to end-stage lung failure. In some cases, the lung disease may also severely affect the function of the heart.
Candidates for transplants include people with cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis, surfactant protein deficiency and bronchiolitis obliterans.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 78 percent of patients survive the first year, 63 percent of patients survive 3 years, and 51 percent of patients survive five years after a lung transplant.
The first successful lung transplant was performed in 1986. Since then, more than 4,000 lung transplant procedures have been reported to the Registry of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, which maintains worldwide statistics for heart, heart-lung and lung transplantation. This includes over 3,000 patients in the United States.
Dr. Marc Schecter, who recently joined Cincinnati Children’s from Texas Children’s Hospital, is medical director of the program. Dr. David Morales is the surgical director.
Schecter has participated in more than 90 pediatric lung transplants in his career. Morales has been involved in more than 50 pediatric lung transplants. Schecter also plans to continue research that explores the risk factors affecting transplant outcomes and the impact of transplant procedures on recipients’ quality of life.