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Lung Transplant Program

The USC cardiopulmonary transplant team, headed by Vaughn A. Starnes, M.D., is composed of experts in their respective fields of cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, pulmonary medicine, immunology, critical care medicine, cystic fibrosis, immunosuppression, and rehabilitation. Dr. Starnes is a world-recognized leader and innovator in heart, heart-lung, and lung transplantation, and cardiothoracic surgery. Keck Hospital of USC is certified for Medicare for lung transplantation. The transplant program is available around the clock--365 days a year.


Pulmonary transplantation has become a viable treatment option for patients with end stage cardiopulmonary disease. Patients eligible for pulmonary transplantation include any person who is severely debilitated by their cardiopulmonary disease and is not hampered by any other organ system dysfunction. Candidates frequently have the diagnosis of obstructive lung disease:

  • Emphysema
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Pulmonary hypertension (both primary and secondary)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (e.g. sarcoidosis, IPF, silicosis)

This same team performs all cardiothoracic transplants for pediatric patients at the Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles.

Contraindications to transplantation include severe obesity, active neoplastic disease, systemic or untreatable local infection, tobacco or drug dependency, lack of adequate support systems, and the inability to comply with a strict medical regimen. Patients on chronic mechanical ventilation will be considered on a case by-case-basis.

Living-related lobar transplantation was pioneered by Dr. Starnes at Keck Hospital of USC and provides an alternative therapy for severely ill patients who are unlikely to survive the waiting that is often required for cadaveric organs to be available. Dr. Starnes was the first in the world to perform a living-related double lobar lung transplant on a patient with cystic fibrosis. Strict criteria must be met before a patient can qualify for these living related procedures.

Single cadaveric lung transplantation is available for patients up to the age of 65 years. Double lung transplantation is the procedure of choice for patients with suppurative lung disease and/or severe pulmonary hypertension. These candidates are frequently under age 60.

Our comprehensive program includes constant transplant team communication with patient/family regarding all aspects of patient's medical care. Patients and families are also given general educational materials about what is expected post transplantation.

We place high value our our relationship with the referring physician and are committed to excellent communication to foster high quality continuity of care.


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