Norton Thoracic Institute celebrates its 1,000th lung transplant 

St. Joseph’s Norton Thoracic Institute recently completed its 1,000th lung transplant, a major milestone that couldn't have been reached without the dedication of expert surgeons, pulmonologists and nurses, along with support from our generous community of donors!

surgeons writing 1,000 on whiteboardThe lung transplant program, which launched in April 2007, cares for approximately 1,000 post-transplant patients and ranks fourth in the nation for overall lung transplant volume. In addition, the program is recognized by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) as the only center within the top-five lung transplant volume hospitals (and in Arizona) to achieve the highest possible quality marks for lung transplants (measured as “survival on the waitlist,” “getting a transplant faster,” and “one-year lung survival”).

St. Joseph's Foundation congratulates the lung transplant team and the many individuals throughout the hospital who support the transplant program!

“The numbers are humbling,” said Ross Bremner, MD, director of Norton Thoracic Institute at St. Joseph’s. “Not only have we been able to reach an incredible number of patients, but the team’s hard work is clearly showlung surgeryn in the exceptional quality scores the hospital receives each year.”

Norton Thoracic Institute was the first lung transplant program in the Valley when it launched in 2006. The program made a leap to No. 1 in the nation in 2017 for the number of lung transplants performed just as the center celebrated its 10th anniversary this April. Prior to the program’s launch, many Arizona lung transplant candidates had to travel out of state for the complex procedure. During their inaugural year, the small team at St. Joseph’s completed 13 life-saving transplants.

Norton Thoracic Institute is not only growing, it’s excelling. Recent data indicates that the one-year survival rates and wait-list times are better than national averages. Opposed to months or years at other centers, the average wait time for a pair of donor lungs at Norton Thoracic Institute is about two weeks, said Rajat Walia, MD, pulmonologist and medical director of the institute’s lung transplant program.

“The achievements of the Norton Thoracic Institute program wouldn’t be possible without Dr. Bremner’s vision, the generosity of our community, donors like the John and Doris Norton family, and especially those who give the gift of life through organ donation,” St. Joseph’s president and CEO Patty White said.

According to UNOS, the one-year survival rate for a lung transplant patient is approximately 85 to 90 percent, and about half of all patients live five years after the procedure, but Dr. Bremner said he’s hopeful their longevity will increase as St. Joseph’s expands its research efforts.

“Within the next five to 10 years, it is our hope that researchers will discover a solution to the complex processes that cause chronic rejection hindering the long-term function of lung transplants,” said Dr. Bremner.Lung transplantation is among the most complicated surgical procedures, requiring precise, to-the-minute planning and meticulous life-long care. In all, the program has performed more than 500 lung transplants for patients from more than 20 different states and two other countries ranging in age from 15 to 77 years old.

“We’ve transplanted physicians, a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer, musicians, cowboys, high school students, teachers, grandparents, a mother of a child with special needs, and a woman who went on to hike the Grand Canyon for the first time post-transplant. For all of us, lung transplantation is not just a job or a service; it’s a passion,” added Michael Smith, MD, surgical director of the institute’s lung transplant program.

You're invited to join this amazing mission with a gift to support Norton Thoracic Institute. Your gift can truly make the difference in the lives of patients treated here. Please give generously! Donate now.