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University of Chicago lung transplant program approved

February 20, 2006

The University of Chicago's new lung transplant program has been approved by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and will begin placing patients on the lung transplant waiting list this week. UNOS also approved the University's application for a heart/lung transplant program.

Both programs are now "designated to receive organs under the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network" and approved by UNOS, effective February 1, 2006.

Last November, the team of five physicians--including medical director Edward Garrity, MD; associate medical director Sangeeta Bhorade, MD; and surgical director, Wickii Vigneswaran, MD--moved to the University of Chicago Hospitals from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. Eight additional members of the team, including an anesthesiologist, an infectious disease specialist and six nurses, have transferred with them.

One of the most experienced teams in the United States, they have performed more than 480 lung transplants, at a rate of about 35 transplants a year, with one-year survival rates of 85 percent--well above the median.

"We have several patients ready to be listed immediately," said Garrity, "and about 15 more in the evaluation process. We look forward to performing our first transplant here quite soon."

The team was attracted by the University's nationally recognized research and clinical programs in pulmonary biology and lung disease. This combination of a large lung transplant program with clinical, translational and basic research efforts in pulmonary medicine provides an unrivalled opportunity to focus upon the causes and treatment of pulmonary disease.

The lung team will join nationally recognized teams in heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, multi-organ, and islet-cell transplantation already in place at the University, making it one of the region's most comprehensive transplant programs. Organ transplantation began at the University of Chicago in 1904 when Dr. Alexis Carrel, who won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in cardiac surgery, developed the surgical techniques and performed the first organ transplant, a heart transplant in a dog.

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