AGH suspends lung transplants


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Allegheny General Hospital has deactivated its lung transplant program and is referring the six patients on its waiting list to other centers.

Spokesman Dan Laurent, in a statement, said the hospital was deactivating the program "while we focus on adding some additional components to the service." He declined to say what "components" the hospital intended to add or when it would restart the lung transplant program.

Since the program began in 2008, AGH surgeons have performed four lung transplants.

AGH still offers heart, liver and kidney transplants, programs that Mr. Laurent described as "vibrant and growing."

In January, the

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services certified AGH's 3-year-old liver transplantation program so Medicare and Medicaid patients could have the procedure done there. And last month the hospital hired kidney and pancreas transplant surgeon Akhtar S. Khan from the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Spokesman Joel Newman of the United Network for Organ Sharing said there had been eight other voluntary inactivations of transplant programs nationwide in the past 18 months, including one other lung program."For a long-term inactivation, the expectation is that a program would close if they do not reactivate in 12 months," he said.

Mr. Laurent said the deactivation was not related "in any way" to staff departures or the West Penn Allegheny Health System's financial problems from years of operational losses.

To bring the system back to profitability, WPAHS has set out to restructure and consolidate services throughout its network.

Last week, WPAHS officials announced major cutbacks including the loss of up to 1,500 full- and part-time jobs, most of them at West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield, which will be closing its emergency department and moving many of its services to AGH.

Next month, the AGH Suburban Campus in Bellevue also will close its emergency department and end inpatient services.


Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.


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