The UF Health Lung Transplant Program broke a Tampa hospital’s 2018 record for the number of lung transplants in a year.
After completing 70 transplants, UF has set the highest number of lung transplants completed in Florida within one year.
The previous record of 58 was set by Tampa General Hospital, said Dr. Satish Chandrashekaran, a transplant pulmonologist with UF Health.
Chandrashekaran said implementing a new team, starting with three new surgeons in 2014, and advancements in technology are the primary reasons they broke the record.
The UF Health program has a shorter wait time and lower mortality rate than any other program in Florida, Chandrashekaran said. The average wait time for the program has shortened to under three months. The program also willingly accepts older patients, which other programs in Florida are often wary to do.
Typically, UF Health performs anywhere from 30 to 40 lung transplants per year, Chandrashekaran said.
Dr. Ashwini Arjuna, a clinician in training in the Lung Transplant Program wrote in an email, “The strength of this program is that the whole team is a comprehensive unit which works very well together as a well oiled machine always working towards making patient care better.”
A lung volume reduction surgery, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation system and a lung perfusion system called XVIVO are some of the technologies that help maximize the efficiency of the donated lungs and the patient’s health. The XVIVO lung perfusion system allows doctors to ventilate a lung and determine if it can be used by a patient. The extracorporeal membrane oxygenation system oxygenates the blood and acts as an exterior lung for the patient, helping patients stay alive while awaiting the transplant.
The average size of a donor’s lungs may be too large for a patient, making it hard to match patients them. But Chandrashekaran said the reduction surgery enables the program to reduce the volume of the lungs, meaning that more donated lungs can be used and more transplants can be done.
Chandrashekaran said this combination of technology is unique to UF and is part of what helped break the record.
Chandrashekaran hopes that reaching out to local communities and hospitals will bring more transplant patients who may not be able to receive treatment at other hospitals to UF Health.
“We’re trying to see how we can help more patients in the community, in the state and in the region,” Chandrashekaran said.