Lung Transplant

Dr. Garrity and patient

The University of Chicago Medicine is home to experienced lung transplant physicians who care for patients with all types of advanced lung diseases, including emphysema, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, and rare lung diseases. After conducting an extensive evaluation, we advise patients and their families on the best treatment options. In many cases, a patient's lung disease may be improved with a change in medication or some other non-surgical therapy.

Lung transplant is always considered as a possible option for patients with advanced lung disease. For patients who are good candidates for transplant, replacing diseased lungs with healthy donor organs can significantly improve lung function and extend their life considerably.

Highly Skilled Physicians

Christopher Wigfield, MD

Our transplant pulmonologists and surgeons are among the most experienced lung transplant physicians in the nation. Together, they have cared for about 500 lung transplant patients. Our transplant surgeon is an impressively qualified academician who is highly respected for his surgical skill and approach to patient care. He has operated on more than 200 lung transplant patients.

In addition to caring for patients who need single or double lung transplants, our physicians have helped dozens of patients who have needed simultaneous heart and lung transplants.

Because of their extensive experience in lung transplantation, our physicians are frequently sought out for their opinions and advice. Our physicians have served on the advisory boards of various organizations that have helped advance lung transplantation, including:

  • American Lung Association
  • American Thoracic Society
  • Gift of Hope
  • International Society for Heart and lung Transplantation
  • United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)

They also speak at national and international conferences and serve as peer reviewers for medical journals that publish important research on lung transplantation.

Good Treatment Outcomes

Wanda Samuel, lung transplant recipient Wanda Samuel reached out to the family who gave her new lungs--and life. »Read her story

Thanks to advances in surgical approaches and anti-rejection therapies, many lung transplant patients are living full, normal lives. Today about 80 percent of lung transplant patients in the United States survive one-year post transplant, and many are still living more than 10 years after their surgery. With the care delivered by our lung transplant physicians, who have worked together since 1998 and at the University of Chicago since 2005, our team's operative and post-operative results are above national averages, with one-year survival of approximately 85 percent.

Leading-Edge Research

Our physicians are committed to helping lung transplant patients live longer lives with better lung function. As dedicated physician scientists and researchers, they are busy uncovering ways to prevent and treat some of the problems that can cause donor lungs to fail.

For example, one of our physicians is studying the genetic triggers of bronchiolitis obliterans, a fatal scarring of the lungs that is the most common cause of death for the lung transplant recipient. The exact cause of bronchiolitis obliterans is unknown. However, if our researchers can identify what prompts the scarring, then scientists may be able to determine therapies to prevent and treat this mysterious problem.

The University of Chicago Medicine is also overseeing a multi-center clinical trial aimed at identifying better anti-rejection drug regimens for lung transplant patients. The trial will be testing an experimental combination of immunosuppression medications aimed at reducing the immune system's tendency to attack donor lungs.

A Pioneer in Lung Transplantation

One of our pulmonologists is considered a true pioneer in lung transplantation. He and his colleagues were providing lung transplants in the late 1980s, when only a handful of other medical centers in the United States were offering this treatment option. He helped build a team of professionals who are passionate about advancing this difficult, but very effective treatment. Our team's commitment and dedication to lung transplantation has helped extend the lives of hundreds of patients in the Chicago area and throughout the Midwest.

Collaborative Relationships with Referring Physicians

Our transplant pulmonologists are committed to helping transplant patients receive as much care as possible close to their homes. Our goal is to return each transplant patient to his or her primary care physician or referring physician within three to six months after transplant. We provide detailed discharge summary notes to referring physicians, and can be reached by phone or email to answer questions about a patient's condition.

Likewise, we are available for consult with referring physicians. We can help physicians determine when a patient with advanced lung disease might be a candidate for lung transplant or other therapy.

Strong Patient Ties

Our team develops strong, personal relationships with each of our lung transplant patients. During the months leading up to transplant surgery, a pre-transplant coordinator helps arrange all the tests and consultations patients require. The pre-transplant coordinator is a registered nurse with special expertise in lung transplant.

Post-transplant, all patients visit our Post-Transplant Clinic for regular check ups with the transplant pulmonologists. In between visits, patients can always reach us by phone or page.


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