On December 6, 2016, UPMC marked a major medical milestone for the UPMC Lung Transplant Program: its 2000th lung transplant procedure. The Lung Transplant Program was established in 1982 and has become one of the largest and most experienced centers in the world for lung and combined heart-lung transplantation.
“We’re one of only a few programs in the United States that has achieved this volume, while maintaining outcomes that are on par with national averages,” said McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Jonathan D’Cunha, MD, PhD, UPMC’s head of lung transplantation. “Reaching our 2000th lung transplant is a reflection of the clinical excellence found at UPMC.”
Dr. D’Cunha said reaching the 2,000-transplant mark — and being the first transplant center nationwide to do so — means that “when you come here, there is nothing we haven’t seen at this point. We use a team-based approach to navigate and get the best outcomes for the most complex patients.”
One of the first patients to receive a double lung transplant at UPMC was Paul McGuinness in November of 1988.
The Avalon, Pennsylvania, resident lived with cystic fibrosis while waiting 15 months before receiving his transplant and was told at the time that he had only a 10 percent chance of living 5 years. He’s now 65 years old.
“Of course I wanted to do the transplant,” said Mr. McGuinness. “When the surgeon took out my lungs, he said they were the worst he had ever seen. This transplant was a gift, and I cherish that gift. I’m lucky to be here.”
“One of the greatest things we do in medicine and surgery is giving breath again,” Dr. D’Cunha said. “These are patients carrying oxygen tanks — and not the person at the grocery store with an oxygen tank, but people who can’t leave the house or even get up without turning blue. They are very sick patients, and transplantation gives them hope for the future.”