Andres Pelaez, MD, medical director of the UF Health Lung Transplant Program and an associate professor of medicine in the UF College of Medicine, performed Nettles’ lung transplant. He said the new specialized ICU gives lung transplant patients advantages they wouldn’t have elsewhere. Respiratory therapists, nurses, surgeons and pulmonary physicians are all close at hand. Procedures, recovery and follow-up visits all occur in the same location.
“Bringing all these disciplines together allows patients to have early mobilization after a procedure and aggressive physical therapy while they are dealing with their recovery,” Pelaez said.
UF Health ranks first in the state and 13th in the nation in lung transplant volume. Since 2014, UF Health first-year patient survival has increased from 74 to 92 percent. Of 12 lung programs in the 10 southeastern states, UF Health surgeons have performed the second-most transplants with the second-lowest mortality rate among adults awaiting transplant between July 2015 and June 2017.
Tiago Machuca, MD, PhD, a thoracic surgeon, lung specialist and assistant professor of surgery in the UF College of Medicine, said UF Health provides innovative care to its lung transplant patients, including the resizing of donor lungs to create a perfect fit and the use of the XVIVO Lung Perfusion System, which allows donor lungs to be kept alive and potentially improved to become eligible for transplant.
“I’m extremely proud of where we are today,” Machuca said. “We have become a high-volume program with excellent outcomes. It’s due to a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Putting all our patients together is a way to optimize resources so that a strong team of people can provide the very best lung care.”