NYU Langone’s Transplant Institute has launched a new lung transplant program, the third program of its kind in the greater New York City area, expanding regional access to this specialized level of care.
The program is led by two nationally renowned experts in the field: Luis F. Angel, MD, a pulmonologist and professor in the departments of Medicine and Cardiothoracic Surgery, who serves as medical director of lung transplantation; and Zachary N. Kon, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon and assistant professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, who serves as surgical director.
Following close on the heels of NYU Langone’s new heart transplant program, the addition of a lung program completes the Transplant Institute’s expansion to offer its patients comprehensive services for bone marrow transplantation and a wide spectrum of solid organ transplantation, making it one of the most comprehensive transplant centers in the region.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Angel and Dr. Kon lead our efforts to develop a successful lung transplant program here at NYU Langone,” says Robert Montgomery, MD, professor of surgery and director of NYU Langone’s Transplant Institute. “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.”
The new lung transplant program complements the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine’s robust offering of programs for patients with advanced lung diseases, pulmonary hypertension, and end-stage lung disease. The program will provide individualized treatment for patients in need of a transplant with a multidisciplinary team of transplant pulmonologists and surgeons, along with nurse coordinators, social workers, dietitians, pulmonary rehabilitation staff, and other specialists to provide comprehensive care and support.
Dr. Kon will also lead a new program to treat another aspect of end-stage lung disease, chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension—a rare form of pulmonary hypertension caused by chronic blood clots in the lungs that form scar-like blockages, often narrowing or blocking the pulmonary arteries. The recommended treatment, performed by only a small number of institutions across the country, is pulmonary thromboendarterectomy—a surgical intervention to remove the damaged tissue from the pulmonary arteries.
“The expansion of lung transplantation enables us to provide the most advanced cardiothoracic care for patients with end-stage lung disease,” says Aubrey C. Galloway, MD, the Seymour Cohn Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. “The care team we’ve assembled under the leadership of Dr. Kon and Dr. Angel will ensure the best care is available to our patients.”
Leading Advances in Transplant Medicine
NYU Langone has assembled a team dedicated to cutting-edge research, to reinforce and energize the Transplant Institute’s commitment to world-class care. Dr. Kon, who comes to NYU Langone from the University of Maryland Medical Center, brings significant research experience in ex vivo lung perfusion. The ex vivo process improves the quality of lungs otherwise deemed unsuitable for transplant by maintaining and evaluating donor lungs outside the body for several hours, treating them with a solution of nutrients and oxygen to reverse lung injury. This enhances the donor lungs’ transplant viability, significantly increasing the number of lungs available for the more than 1,600 people now on the national waiting list.
One of lung transplantation’s most pressing challenges is how to both predict outcomes post-lung transplantation and identify those patients at heightened risk for chronic lung rejection as early as possible, to maximize the potential for intervention and to prevent declining lung function. Dr. Angel—who joined NYU Langone in January 2017 from the University Transplant Center of San Antonio—and his team have partnered with 18 transplant centers across the country to develop strategies to address this challenge. Researchers in this collaboration hope to identify the risk factors associated with acute rejection or early chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD), which affects nearly half of all lung transplant recipients by five years post-transplant.
Making an Impact In Organ Donation
The Transplant Institute is committed to leading groundbreaking initiatives to promote organ donation and encourage the best use of donor organs. Dr. Angel has spearheaded efforts to create a Lung Donor Management Center that works with the New York Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs), providing access to pulmonologists on-call 24/7 to consult with OPOs on how to best manage deceased donors in order to obtain optimal donor lungs across New York State, as well as continued education with a comprehensive simulation course related to the management of potential lung donors.
NYU Langone is also implementing a new model to encourage preservation of organ donation, training staff on how best to approach families about donation, and medically manage deceased patients to maintain the viability of their organs.
“Since the origination of our Transplant Institute in 2016, we have worked tirelessly and strengthened the exceptional care we provide to our patients,” says Dr. Montgomery. “With each step forward, we renew our commitment to remain at the forefront of clinical care and research while providing superior patient-centered care to all who walk in our doors.”