CHICAGO (AP) -- Northwestern Medicine in Chicago is launching a new program it hopes will address a shortage of lung transplant surgeries in Illinois.
It announced this week that it is accepting patients immediately and will start surgeries in May.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, only 52 lung transplants were performed last year at two centers in Illinois, forcing many patients to travel out of state.
One reason for the small number of programs is the complexity of lung transplants.
Ankit Bharat is surgical director of Northwestern's new Lung Transplant Program. He explains that unlike other organs, transplanted lungs are more prone to infection and damage because a patient's respiration exposes them to outside air.
And surgeons only have six hours to transport lungs from a donor to a recipient