HOUSTON (April 11, 2016)

Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (TMC) is now offering lung transplants, establishing its reputation as an elite health center with a comprehensive transplant program covering all solid organs including kidney, liver and heart transplants.

The Lung Transplant Program is part of the Center for Advanced Heart Failure at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute – Texas Medical Center (HVI), a recognized national leader in the treatment of advanced cardiothoracic disease. The highly skilled, multidisciplinary team has a long history of clinical excellence and includes an array of specialists including cardiologists, critical care physicians, thoracic surgeons, along with a dedicated team of nurses, social workers, therapists and other disciplines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic lung disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer. There are more than 1,500 people across the U.S. on the waiting list for a lung transplant.

“Our lung transplant program will play a major role in improving the quality of life for a vast number of people who suffer every day from chronic lung disease,” said Soma Jyothula, M.D., medical director of the program and assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at McGovern Medical School. “It offers them a chance at a new lease on life. We can now meet their complete medical needs, from regular chronic disease care to the replacement of a diseased lung with a new one, if necessary.”

Founded in collaboration with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, the program has received official approval from the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), a national nonprofit organization that oversees U.S. organ transplant programs in coordination with the U.S. federal government. To receive UNOS approval, the program had to meet a set of stringent guidelines to ensure that it had the qualified personnel and extensive infrastructure support capable of operating such a program.

The new Lung Transplant Program solidifies HVI’s ability to offer patients the entire gamut of treatment options, along with seamless coordination of care for lung disease sufferers. In addition, through the partnership between Memorial Hermann-TMC and McGovern Medical School, the program is linked to a vast network of premier centers recognized for their excellence in treating interstitial lung disease, pulmonary hypertension and lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM).

The lung disease program at Memorial Hermann-TMC and McGovern Medical School recently was selected to become a Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) Care Center, the first and only program in the Houston area to receive the prestigious designation. The selection provides additional resources for patients and caregivers, and allows physicians and scientists to collaborate with other sites across the country.

“Our program combines the expertise of two well-respected entities renowned for advanced medical studies, high-quality care and top-notch leadership in biomedical research,” Dr. Jyothula said. “Together, we are now providing the best medical care for patients with chronic lung diseases, while advancing medical science with revolutionary research and advanced technologies.”

Memorial Hermann’s lung transplant program is focused on providing cutting-edge treatment for patients suffering from end-stage lung disease, added Keshava Rajagopal, M.D., Ph.D., surgical director of the program and assistant professor of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery at McGovern Medical School. "We are creative, innovative and committed to doing what it takes to improve our patients' quality of life.”

Those eligible for a lung transplant have end-stage pulmonary diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, COPD and cystic fibrosis, and show no signs of improving their conditions with other medical or surgical treatments. They must also show a potential for rehabilitation following the transplant and commit to the long-term medical regimen associated with organ transplantation. All candidates undergo an extensive evaluation to determine if they qualify for a transplant and all donor lungs are carefully screened prior to transplant surgery.

Nationwide, there's a strong demand for organ transplant programs; however, the needs are particularly acute in areas with large populations, like the city of Houston, Dr. Rajagopal added. "We want to do our part to help serve a broader need. The addition of a lung transplant program completes our comprehensive suite of transplant options, and allows patients to continue receiving the full continuum of care, all within the Memorial Hermann system."