The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that chronic lung diseases are the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. More than 1,500 patients in the U.S. are the waiting list for a lung transplant.
“Our lung transplant program will play a major role in improving the quality of life for a vast number of people who suffer every day from chronic lung disease,” said Dr. Soma Jyothula, medical director of the program and an assistant professor at McGovern Medical School, in a press release. “It offers them a chance at a new lease on life. We can now meet their complete medical needs, from regular chronic disease care to the replacement of a diseased lung with a new one, if necessary.”
Established in cooperation with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, the Lung Transplant Program was approved by the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), which is the U.S. nonprofit organization that manages transplantation programs with the federal government. The transplant program allows Memorial Hermann-TMC to provide a wide range of therapies along with the care of patients with lung diseases.
Through its partnership with Memorial Hermann-TMC and McGovern Medical School, the program offers a network of health centers specialized in the treatment of interstitial lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, and lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM).
TMC’s Lung Transplant Program is also part of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) Care Center Network, offering additional resources for patients and caregivers, and collaborative opportunities between doctors and scientific professionals at other U.S. sites.
“Our program combines the expertise of two well-respected entities renowned for advanced medical studies, high-quality care, and top-notch leadership in biomedical research,” Jyothula said. “Together, we are now providing the best medical care for patients with chronic lung diseases, while advancing medical science with revolutionary research and advanced technologies.”
The transplant program focuses on offering cutting-edge treatment options to people with end-stage lung diseases, according to Dr. Keshava Rajagopal, surgical director of the program and an assistant professor at McGovern Medical School. “We are creative, innovative, and committed to doing what it takes to improve our patients’ quality of life,” Rajagopal said.
Patients eligible for lung transplants have end-stage respiratory diseases such as like pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, COPD, and cystic fibrosis, and have experienced no improvements with other therapeutical methods. Patients who undergo lung transplantation must show potential for rehabilitation after the procedure, and agree to the long-term medical regimen post-transplant. An extensive evaluation is carried out to determine if a patient qualifies, and all donor lungs are carefully tested beforehand.
There’s always a need for organ transplant programs in the U.S., but the demand is especially high in heavily populated areas such as Houston, Rajagopal said. “We want to do our part to help serve a broader need. The addition of a lung transplant program completes our comprehensive suite of transplant options, and allows patients to continue receiving the full continuum of care, all within the Memorial Hermann system,” Rajagopal added.