UCSF marked a milestone this week with the 500th procedure in its Thoracic Transplant Program, which specializes in transplantation of the heart and lung.
“We’re glad to reach this significant point in our program because it means that a great number of patients are receiving improvements to their health that could not otherwise be achieved without an organ transplant,” said Charles Hoopes, MD, director of Cardiopulmonary Transplantation at UCSF since 2002. “UCSF has a highly experienced transplant support team and is dedicated to research focused on continued improvement in patient survival and outcomes for transplanted organs.”
Patients in the program have undergone either a heart or lung transplant or both.
According to UCSF clinical specialists, transplant is the best treatment for patients with severe, end-stage disease where no effective medical or nontransplant surgical treatments are available.
Conditions that damage the heart to the point where a transplant is the best chance for improved health include congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, and valvular heart disease. Severe diseases of the lung that can lead to transplant include emphysema, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and sarcoidosis, an inflammation that produces tiny lumps in the lungs.
In January, new data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients showed that UCSF exceeded national averages for expected survival rates of both heart and lung transplant patients. Known for tackling complex transplant surgeries, UCSF was the only hospital among the U.S. News & World Report top 18 hospitals that exceeded the national averages in both heart and lung transplant programs (http://www.ustransplant.org/).
Research is making it possible for more patients with uncommon disease types to receive transplants.
“Part of the benefit of being at UCSF is to work on the cutting edge of research, to never be satisfied with the status quo and to identify new recipient populations, new science, and new ways of improving care,” said Jeffrey Golden, MD, medical director of the UCSF Lung Transplant Program. “Our transplant population includes patients with unique rheumatological disorders and those with end stage lung disease secondary to congenital heart disease—patients with diseases that are just now being considered viable for transplantation.”
Research in transplant medicine has been a focus of the UCSF transplant program since it began. UCSF researchers are presently investigating a blood test instead of a biopsy to identify patients who might reject their donor organ and the future possibility of using inhaled immunosuppressants to stop transplant rejection. The Thoracic Transplant Program is also looking into diseases like scleroderma, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself to create both end stage heart and lung disease.
The Heart Transplant Program at UCSF is researching the genomics of heart failure and donor organ rejection. The program began in 1989 and focuses on pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular failure, combined heart-kidney transplant, transplant for Chagas disease, transplant for congenital heart disease, and transplant for patients with heart failure and HIV.
The UCSF Lung Transplant Program began in 1991 and is a specialized center of excellence for treating cystic fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension. The program also focuses on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) as a bridge to transplant for acute respiratory failure, the role of transplant in malignancy (bronchoalveolar carcinoma), and transplant for HIV patients. Current research includes the genomics of transplant rejection, acute lung injury and fungal infections.
Information about all UCSF transplant programs can be found at: