The lung transplant program is the third of its kind in the New York area. It offers patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) and other advanced lung diseases who need a transplant, individualized treatment services provided by a multidisciplinary team of physicians and caregivers.
The program will be led by NYU professors pulmonologist Luis F. Angel, MD, and cardiothoracic surgeon Zachary N. Kon, MD.
Kon will lead a group working with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH), a rare form of PH caused by chronic blood clots in the lungs that induce scar-like blockages, often blocking or narrowing pulmonary arteries.
The recommended treatment for CTEPH is pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, a surgery to remove the damaged tissue from the pulmonary arteries; however, it is currently performed by only a small number of institutions nationwide.
Kon also brings significant experience in ex vivo lung perfusion, a process that improves the quality of lungs otherwise deemed unsuitable for transplant by maintaining donor lungs outside the body for several hours, while treating them to reverse lung damage and eventually save the organ’s viability for transplant.
The process potentially could increase the number of available lungs for the more than 1,600 people now waiting for a transplant in the U.S.
Another challenge still faced by lung transplantation is the ability to predict who will accept and who will reject a donated lung. The goal is to identify patients at increased risk for chronic lung rejection as early as possible, to prevent decline in lung function.
With experience in more 18 transplant centers nationwide, Angel and his team will help NYU Langone’s Transplant Institute staff develop strategies to address this challenge. Under his supervision, a team will identify the risk factors associated with acute rejection or early chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD), a condition that affects almost half of all lung transplant recipients within the first five years.
“With their addition to our first-rate multidisciplinary team, we are well positioned to make a major impact on New York State’s public health crisis in organ donation and transplantation, and drive discovery and innovation in the field of transplantation,” Robert Montgomery, MD, professor of surgery and director of NYU Langone’s Transplant Institute, said in a NYU Langone Health news story.
Besides pulmonary vascular disorders, like PH, patients with interstitial lung diseases, obstructive lung diseases, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis and other rare diseases also may be eligible to receive a lung transplant.