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Cleveland Clinic staff sets record for lung transplants during a single year

Posted Oct 17 2009 10:01pm

By Diane Suchetka  Photo: Tracy Boulian

By Diane Suchetka Photo: Tracy Boulian

The Cleveland Clinic, long known for its treatment of heart disease, took the lead in another medical specialty this week when it set the world record for the most lung transplants performed at a hospital in a single year.

On Tuesday, Clinic doctors implanted a new lung in their 129th patient this year, one-upping the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which performed 128 lung transplants in 2007.

Since then, the Clinic has performed two more, reaching 131 on Thursday.

And there’s still more than two months left in the year.

In a news release issued Thursday, the Clinic said it expects to complete more than 160 of the expensive surgeries before Jan. 1.

The increasing number of transplants means Clinic patients have shorter waiting times — about one-third receive a new lung or lungs within 30 days of going on the list. Nationally, 8.4 percent receive the organ within 30 days, according to the Clinic. And 90.3 percent of Clinic patients receive a new lung within a year, compared with 40.9 percent nationally.

“It’s not about the numbers,” Dr. Marie Budev, medical director of the Clinic’s Lung Transplantation Program, said by phone Thursday afternoon.

“It’s about the patients.

“And we’re learning more and more about what you can do for these patients. We’re learning that these patients that were deemed high risk can actually do very well.”

Treating difficult cases — patients who have been turned down by other hospitals — is one of many reasons the Clinic has more than doubled the 57 lung transplants it performed last year. This year, nearly half its lung transplant patients had been turned away by other hospitals across the country, according to Clinic officials.

Some of those patients were sent to the Clinic because they’re over the age of 65, and others because they have coronary heart disease or other medical conditions that complicate their cases.

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