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Inova's Lung Transplant History

Inova's Lung Transplant Program was established in 1991 in response to the growing need for a center of excellence in lung transplantation within the Washington, DC, metropolitan area and Northern Virginia.

Growing out of Inova's established programs in heart, kidney, pancreas and liver transplantation, the Lung Transplant Program has enjoyed tremendous growth as evidenced by increased referrals from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and a growing number of transplants.

The program is responsible for the area's first single lung transplant (1991), first bilateral lung transplant (1996), and first heart-lung transplant (1997).

Today, Inova Lung Transplant Program remains the only program to offer lung and heart-lung transplantation in Northern Virginia and the DC metro area.

Inova milestones

  • (2010) Inova Transplant Center performs 24 lung transplants. Half are bilateral lung transplants, the highest number in program history. Our survival statistics consistently match or surpass the national average, according to
    1 month – 94.5% (U.S. average 94.98%)
    1 year – 88.38% (U.S. average 82.49%)
    3 years – 63.24% (U.S. average 63.67%)
  • (2010) Median wait time for a lung transplant at Inova Transplant Center remains a very short 101 days.
  • (2008) Inova Transplant Center's survival statistics are above the national average.
  • (2007) Inova Transplant Center performs 23 lung transplants.
  • (2007) Underlying lung conditions for which transplants have been performed increase to include COPD, alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, other forms of lung fibrosis, Eisenmenger's syndrome, cystic fibrosis and lymphangioleimymatosis.
  • (2007) Eleven patients currently await lung transplantation at Inova Fairfax Hospital, with more than 40 in the work-up
  • (2006) Thirty-six transplants are performed at Inova Lung Transplant Center.
  • (2005) The median wait time for 49 lung transplants at Inova Fairfax Hospital decreases dramatically from a median wait time of 170 days to a median wait time of 95 days, thanks to implementation of a new lung allocation system.
  • (1999) Medicare offers approval for lung and heart/lung transplants.
  • (1997) Inova Transplant Center performs the first heart-lung transplant in the Northern Virginia/DC metro areas.
  • (1996) Inova Transplant Center performs the first bilateral lung transplant in the Northern Virginia/DC metro areas.
  • (1991) Inova Transplant Center performs the first lung transplant in the Northern Virginia/DC metro areas.

A general history of lung transplantation

James Hardy, MD, and Watts Webb, MD, performed the first human lung transplant at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1963. The patient, a 58-year-old man suffering from end-stage emphysema and lung cancer, died 18 days later.

The 1960s and 1970s saw a number of additional unsuccessful attempts at human lung transplantation. The modern era of lung transplantation was launched in 1983 when Dr. Joel Cooper and his associates at the University of Toronto successfully transplanted two patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The success of Dr. Cooper and his team stemmed in part from their understanding of how to protect the vulnerable bronchial anastomosis (bronchial "hookup").

The team also pioneered new surgical techniques, contributing to the evolution of the lung transplant procedure.

Since the initial transplant era, further development of surgical techniques and new medications have led to increasingly-successful outcomes for transplant patients. Medications such as cyclosporin and tacrolimus lower the risk of organ rejection. Antimicrobial agents such as ganciclovir and valganciclovir more effectively help prevent or treat infections. Clinicians understand better how to deal with complications such as donor graft dysfunction and chronic rejection. Improved donor management, expanded donor criteria, and improved preservation techniques have also played a role in lung transplantation's growing success.

Today lung transplantation is a widely-accepted therapeutic option for a growing number of end-stage lung diseases. Continued development of new transplant medications furthers the science of transplantation and brings with it new hope and optimism for thousands of people who will benefit from this life-saving surgery.