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Washington University lung transplant surgeons reached a milestone and quickly passed it January 21 when they performed the 1,000th adult lung transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the 1,001st transplant just a few hours later. 

With almost 400 additional lung transplants performed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the Washington University Medical Center is the busiest lung transplant center in the United States. 

“This is a good opportunity to focus on the achievements of a marvelous team – nursing, pulmonary medicine, thoracic surgery, anesthesia – helping a group of very ill but committed patients,” says G. Alexander Patterson, MD, Evarts Ambrose Graham Professor of Surgery and chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Washington University and head of the lung transplant program. Patterson has performed more of the 1,000 transplants than any other surgeon on the team. 

The 1,000th patient, who has cystic fibrosis (CF) and had been on the list for a lung transplant since November, received the transplant in a four-hour surgery performed by Patterson. Surgery on patient 1,001 started just before the other operation finished. 

The Barnes-Jewish Hospital lung transplant program was started in 1988 by a team of physicians and nurses, led by physicians who had performed the first successful human lung transplant in 1983 at the University of Toronto. The team continued to innovate and develop surgical techniques and medical regimens that are acknowledged as the gold standard in lung transplant and thoracic surgery. One such innovation is the bilateral, sequential lung transplant, which significantly boosted the use of lung transplant
to treat cystic fibrosis. 

The program is renowned for its excellent patient outcomes, which equal or surpass national standards. Factors contributing to these outcomes include selection of the most appropriate transplant candidates, world-renowned medical and surgical transplant specialists—many of whom have worked together since the program began, extensive experience in caring for end-stage lung disease and lung transplant patients, and aggressive pursuit of leading-edge therapies and promising new drugs, according to Patterson. 
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