Allegheny Health Network and Johns Hopkins Medicine Complete First Successful Collaborative Lung Transplantation

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Pittsburgh Woman Receiving Post-Transplant Care at AHN after Surgery in Baltimore

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) and Johns Hopkins Medicine announced today the first successful lung transplantation as part of a unique collaboration launched last year between the two organizations.

A 65-year-old woman from Pittsburgh with level D chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) underwent a bilateral lung transplant at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in September 2020 as part of the program. According to body-mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnea, and exercise capacity (BODE) rating, level D is the most severe form of COPD, often leading to lung transplantation being considered. After a week in the hospital and six weeks of post-operative care in Baltimore, the patient returned home to Pittsburgh where she is continuing her care at AHN, with regular follow up by the Johns Hopkins team as well.

In 2020, AHN and Johns Hopkins Medicine announced plans to collaborate on the study and treatment of COPD, utilizing the Johns Hopkins Precision Medicine Analytics Platform. As part of this effort, the two organizations formed a partnership so that AHN patients with advanced lung disease could receive streamlined access to the Johns Hopkins Medicine lung transplant program, a pioneering leader in the field for nearly 25 years.

Pre- and post-lung transplant care programs aligned with the Johns Hopkins’ lung transplant team have been established at AHN’s Allegheny General Hospital, providing patients with convenient, local access to care needed prior to and after surgery. Anil Singh, MD, an AHN pulmonary and critical care specialist and Executive Medical Director of Clinical Solutions, Design and Implementation, leads AHN’s collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine and oversees patient care in Pittsburgh. Dr. Singh and his team refer patients into the program, and then co-manage their care and progress with the Hopkins Lung Transplant Team when they return to Pittsburgh.

“We are excited to be working with one of the world’s preeminent lung transplant programs to make this lifesaving care more readily accessible to our patients with complex, end-stage lung diseases like COPD,” Singh says. “Our first patient spent a relatively short time on the waiting list for transplant and is doing extremely well in her recovery.”

AHN patients choosing The Johns Hopkins Hospital for their lung transplant are guided through every step of the process by a personal patient navigator. Additionally, Highmark-insured patients requiring lung transplantation can utilize specific in-network benefits to better accommodate them and their families during their time at Johns Hopkins.

“The shared care model with AHN, allows us to provide the comprehensive transplant care for our patients while reducing travel disruptions from frequent health care visits to Baltimore,” per Pali Shah, M.D., Medical Director of Hopkins Lung Transplantation. “Our teams communicate on a weekly basis to provide seamless care.”

Johns Hopkins’ median time from waitlist to transplant is 2.8 months, compared to a national average of 3.1 months. AHN’s first lung transplant patient as part of the collaborative was on the waitlist for just one month. The Hopkins program is committed to the highest quality and at the leading edge of technology, with programs for ex vivo lung perfusion to expand the donor pool, novel techniques for monitoring rejection, and participating as a member of national scientific consortiums to advance the science of lung transplantation.

An estimated 30 million people in the United States have COPD, with as many as half unaware that they have the disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COPD is known to increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. While treatments such as medications and oxygen therapy can improve quality of life for patients, there is no cure for COPD.

For more information about the AHN Breathing Disorders Center and pulmonology services, visit AHN.org or call 412-DOCTORS to schedule an appointment.

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About the Allegheny Health Network
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org), a Highmark Health company, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is composed of 13 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, multiple employed physician organizations, home and community-based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more. AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,500 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

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Rachel Borowski
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