UCSF celebrates 1,000th lung transplant since program began in 1991

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Seven percent of the country's lung transplants are now tied to the respiratory problems caused by COVID-19. Whether it's for that reason or others, UCSF is celebrating a milestone -- its 1,000th lung transplant since its first operation more than thirty years ago.

They're calling 60-year-old Patrick Alexander patient number 1,000. 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 family or the donor his or herself, but we're just so grateful," he said.

Alexander had scarring of the lung that impeded the ability for oxygen to enter the blood stream. UCSF's transplant expertise is world class.

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"The one year survival is really tops in the country and has been that way for over a decade," said Dr. Steve Hays, UCSF pulmonologist. "Our long-term survival is also continuing to really improve every year, so that patients are now getting a transplant, have an expectation they could live nearly 12 years."

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

"We went from 19 percent, almost 19-20 percent airway complications requiring some sort of intervention down to less than one percent now, which is quite remarkable because no other program has been able to achieve that outcome," said Dr. Jasleen Kukreja, UCSF transplant surgeon.

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

"A year ago, we didn't even know that Patrick had the disease. This is how quickly it progressed," said Alexander's wife, Allison. "We're just so grateful for the staff at UCSF. They have been so thorough."

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