University of California, San Francisco celebrates 1,000th lung transplant patient since program began in 1991

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Seven percent of lung transplants nationwide are now linked to respiratory problems caused by COVID-19. Whether for this reason or others, UCSF is celebrating a milestone: its 1,000th lung transplant since its first operation more than thirty years ago.

They call 60-year-old patient Patrick Alexander number 1000. The Fresno insurance agent is recovering from the 1,000th lung transplant at the hospital since the program began in 1991.

“We don’t know much about the donor’s family or the donor himself, but we are so grateful,” he said.

Alexander had lung scars that prevented oxygen from entering the blood. UCSF’s expertise in transplantation is world-class.

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“The one-year survival rate is truly the highest in the country and has been for over a decade,” said UCSF pulmonologist Dr. Steve Hays. “Our long-term survival also continues to improve each year, so patients are now receiving a transplant and expecting to live close to 12 years.”

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In about a year, Alexander should be able to resume an active life of travel, exercise and other activities. Post-transplant complications are now rare.

“We’ve gone from 19%, almost 19-20% of airway complications requiring some sort of intervention to less than 1% now, which is quite remarkable because no other program has been able to reach this result,” said UCSF Transplant Surgeon Dr. Jasleen Kukreja.

Alexander can expect to extend his life by 10-12 years.

“A year ago, we didn’t even know Patrick had the disease. That’s how fast it progressed,” said Alexander’s wife, Allison. “We are so grateful to the staff at UCSF. They have been so thorough.”

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