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The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has reached a momentous milestone in completing its 1,000th lung transplant.

Credit: Zach Sheldon

The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has helped 1,000 people breathe again.

As of late August, Penn Medicine’s Lung Transplant Program completed its 1,000th lung transplant — a feat shared by only four other lung transplant programs in the country. The Penn Lung Transplant Program, which was established in 1991, is part of the Penn Transplant Institute, the largest multi-organ transplant center in the Philadelphia region.

“We’re excited to have reached such a momentous milestone for the Penn Lung Transplant Program,” said James Lee, medical director of the Penn Lung Transplantation Program, in a press release. “This milestone celebrates the positive impact we’ve had on the lives of our patients, and the difference we have made for those who have received lung transplants at Penn Medicine.”

Penn Medicine has a history of breaking barriers in the field. The first successful isolated lung transplant in the Delaware Valley was performed at HUP on New Year’s Day in 1992 by Larry Kaiser, who at the time was one of the few surgeons worldwide trained in the procedure.

Since its formation, the Lung Transplant Program has performed more adult lung transplants than any other program in the Philadelphia area. The program has performed an average of 50 transplants per year in the last 15 years and is on track to complete 80 by the end of 2016.

The Program attributes its success to its multidisciplinary approach to patient care, which allows it to treat patients in a more swift, efficient manner. The evaluation process is the coordinated effort of Penn Medicine’s Lung Transplant Team, which consists of physicians, nurses, counselors and surgeons, among others.

The team works with patients and their families to determine eligibility for transplantation, works with Gift of Life Donor Program — the regional organ procurement organization and the largest organ procurement organization in the country — to match patients and donors, and follows patients closely after post-operative care to ensure that the transplanted organ is working properly and that patients are recovering strongly.

“With the expertise our team has gained over the years, we are committed to offering all available treatment options, and alternatives, that allow patients to receive a lung transplant swiftly,” said Christian Bermudez, the surgical director of Lung Transplantation and Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation in a press release. “Following this tremendous milestone, it is my hope and the goal of the program that our multidisciplinary team continues to further our expertise, advance the field of transplantation and give our patients the opportunity to really get their lives back.”

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