St. Joseph’s lung transplant program jumps in national rankings

St. Joseph’s 400th lung transplant patient, Bob Skaar (submitted photo)

St. Joseph’s 400th lung transplant patient, Bob Skaar (submitted photo)

Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center has jumped to No. 2 in the nation for the amount of lung transplantations preformed in 2015.

Now only outranked by one facility, St. Joseph’s transplant team at its Norton Thoracic Institute has completed more than 450 lung transplants to date, including an impressive 93 last year, according to a press release.

One of the reasons for the increase in rank from 2014’s No. 5 is the institute’s surge in patients who are coming from around the nation for their transplants because of the expertise of physicians and staff at St. Joseph’s.

“Our program continues to grow quickly and we are humbled and proud to have saved so many lives,” stated Rajat Walia, MD, pulmonologist and medical director of lung transplantation at St. Joseph’s Norton Institute, in the release. “The numbers are impressive, but we are most proud of our outcomes and the quality of care we give to each individual patient. The tireless efforts of our team continues to amaze me.”

In 2015 St. Joseph’s record number of 93 lung transplant procedures outpaced long-established programs at major medical institutions like Cleveland Clinic which occupied the No. 2 ranking in 2014. Prior to the launch of the St. Joseph’s program in 2007, many Arizona lung transplant candidates had to travel out of state for the complex procedure, the release stated.

St. Joseph’s 400th lung transplant patient, Bob Skaar (submitted photo)

St. Joseph’s 400th lung transplant patient, Bob Skaar (submitted photo)

Only surpassed by Duke University Hospital, which had just 13 more lung transplants last year, the nine-year-old program at St. Joseph’s continues to climb in the rankings. With its annual lung transplant volume nearing 100 per year, the program is now outpacing major well-established facilities like Cleveland Clinic, University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, The Methodist Hospital, and Temple University.

Among the most complicated surgical procedures which require precise, to-the-minute planning and meticulous life-long care, lung transplants at the Phoenix hospital have strong outcomes with one-year survival rates above the national average—near 90 percent.

Norton’s lung transplant team at St. Joseph’s is able to expedite patient evaluations, selecting candidates who are eligible and placing them on the United Network for Organ Sharing transplant list. With aggressive donor management, the team procures suitable organs in a shorter than average wait time and surgeons have approximately six hours to transplant a lung once one is retrieved.

Many of St. Joseph’s lung transplant patients receive life-saving donor lungs within days of being listed, rather than weeks or months.  Currently, nearly 1,500 people nationwide are awaiting a life-saving lung transplant.

To learn more about registering as an organ donor, visit Donate Life online at dnaz.org.

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