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November 15, 2017

Program Specializing in Challenging Heart-Lung and Bloodless Lung Transplants Performs Its First Two Transplants

NEW YORK (November 15, 2017) –Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart & Vascular Care has received interim approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to launch a new lung transplant program, joining an exclusive group of premier surgical programs in New York. Upon receiving this approval, Montefiore has already performed its first two lung transplants. The program is unique as it’s the only one in New York to offer bloodless lung transplants and heart-lung transplants. Both are particularly complex procedures requiring a high level of skill.   

 “This is an enormous step for Montefiore and for the growing region we serve,” said Robert E. Michler, M.D., professor and chairman of cardiothoracic & vascular surgery, professor and chairman of the department of surgery, Samuel I. Belkin Endowed Chair, Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “In New York State so many donor lungs are going unused because of limited resources and experience. With our new world-class team we will be able to save the lives of thousands of people with chronic lung and heart diseases.”

Since 1995, nearly 18,000 people in New York State were removed from the lung transplant waiting list because they were either too sick to receive a transplant or died while waiting for a transplant. The new lung program will be led by world-renowned physician-researchers, Scott Scheinin, M.D., F.A.C.S., and Harish Seethamraju, M.D., who bring nearly five decades of combined experience in advanced, end-stage pulmonary care and transplantation. Dr. Scheinin was also the recipient of the prestigious 2015 Kathleen J. Sazama Award from the Society for the Advancement of Blood Management for outstanding leadership in advancing patient rights and his consistent dedication to progress in the field of blood management. The two doctors came to Montefiore to open a world-class lung transplant and pulmonary failure facility to treat patients with conditions such as emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis and rheumatologic diseases (which affect your joints and muscles).

“We’re grateful to be able to expand lung transplant services locally by better utilizing donor organs in our area,” said Dr. Scheinin, surgical director, Advanced Pulmonary Failure and Lung Transplantation Program, division chief, Thoracic Surgery and Surgical Oncology, and director, Bloodless Heart Surgery Program. “With our new program, we’re able to improve the lives of so many more people.”

Complementing Montefiore’s long experience with bloodless heart transplants, Drs. Scheinin and Seethamraju will bring their vast expertise in bloodless lung transplants, a specialized surgical option that can shorten recovery time and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke post-surgery. In addition, bloodless transplant surgery presents new options to many in the Montefiore community whose religious beliefs have not allowed them to consider these procedures.    

“Now patients of all faiths and cultural backgrounds have access to advanced pulmonary failure and lung transplant treatments,” said Dr. Seethamraju, medical director, Advanced Pulmonary Failure and Lung Transplantation Program. “By combining cutting edge treatments with a highly skilled transplant team, we are changing the way end-stage pulmonary patients are cared for in our area.”

Montefiore has the best one-year and three-year patient survival rates for adult heart transplants in New York City. Adding the lung program means patients can now receive all five leading types of transplant procedures: liver, kidney, heart, pancreas, and lung. Montefiore’s lung transplant program will be available to both children and adult patients.

Appointments are now available, and can be scheduled by calling 718-920-LUNG (5864).