University of Pennsylvania Health System

Lung Transplant Update | Penn Medicine

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How to Reduce Sugar in Your Diet

Following transplant surgery, you need to be extra careful with your diet and follow the nutrition guidelines provided by your Transplant dietitian and medical team. In general, nutrition recommendations after transplant include a well-balanced, portion and carbohydrate-controlled diet. Carbohydrate-controlled, in particular, means watching your sugar intake...

While always sweet and delicious, consuming large amounts of added sugar can be more than a dental issue. Sugars in their natural form, like those found in fruits and vegetables, are embraced by our body and are broken down appropriately; however, the addition of refined sugar in processed foods has been clearly linked with health complications.

Following a solid nutrition plan and reducing the amount of refined sugar your consume is one way you can work to optimize how well your transplanted organ functions. To help, we have listed a few alternatives to sugar that you can use in your food and drinks that are healthier, yet just as sweet.

Unsweetened Applesauce

For healthier baking, swap out the sugar for applesauce, which contains more nutrients, as well as fiber, and fewer calories for every cup. Just replace the sugar with equal parts applesauce and you're well on your way to a healthier, sweet snack. Remember, for every cup of applesauce used, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by one-fourth cup.


Housed in every baking cabinet, vanilla extract can enhance the flavor without the refined sugar. Even though it can't be used as a 1:1 ratio, it still can reduce the amount of added sugar while keeping the same amount of flavor. A perfect, healthy twist for your favorite cookie! Try cutting a few tablespoons of sugar and using half of a teaspoon of vanilla instead.

Yogurt or Greek Yogurt

Yogurt can provide a good sweet option, as some have relatively low sugar. Nutritionists Tiffany Donahue, RD, LDN, and Katie Stratton, RD, LDN, suggest adding a little powdered cocoa or a sprinkling of cinnamon to plain Greek yogurt for a fun snack.

Reminder: Remember that honey, maple syrup and dried fruit are natural but concentrated sugars, which should be avoided or limited to small quantities. Raw honey should be avoided completely.

Monday, March 2, 2015

March Support Group: Speaker from Gift of Life

Photo credit: Gift of Life Donor Program
Date: Monday, March 9, 2015
Time: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Location: Smilow Center for Translational Research
Conference Room 09-146 AB
3400 Civic Center Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Please enter via the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

Topic: Speaker from Gift of Life Donor Procurement Organization

Please join us on Monday, March 9 as we welcome Lara Morettirom Gift of Life Family Support Services, the federally designated donor procurement organization in the Philadelphia region. 

During the support group meeting, Lara will share the numerous resources that Gift of Life provides to donor families and recipients and how to tap into them. For instance, if you would like to write a letter to the family who donated their loved one's organs to you, the Gift of Life Family Services team offers guidance, support and different options for doing so depending on your comfort level. She will explain why you may wish to write a letter and the process for writing and delivering it. 

Lara will also give detailed information about the annual Donor Dash for Tissue and Organ Donation. This year the Dash is taking place on Sunday, April 19 at front of the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. It is the single most important event for raising awareness and funding education that GOL provides to the community in the tri-state region. Aside from it being a remarkably fun day where thousands of people come to share the message of donation, the Dash highlights the generosity of donation and showcases the grateful recipients and their families.

If you have questions about the meeting, please contact Chris at 215-662-4575 or

We look forward to seeing you on Monday!

Monday, February 23, 2015

What Does the U.S. Measles Outbreak Mean for Transplant Patients?

Measles Outbreak

Over the past few weeks, the measles outbreak in the United States has been a big topic of conversation. For those of you who may not know about measles, it is a highly contagious virus that spreads through the air via coughing and sneezing. It starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, which is then followed by a rash that spreads over the body. It is very dangerous and can be fatal.

Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. “One dose of MMR vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus, and two doses are about 97 percent effective,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the CDC, measles was eliminated from the country in 2000; however, measles can be spread by unvaccinated people who catch it outside of the U.S. They can then spread measles to other people who are not protected against it – which is what is happening today.

What This Means for Transplant Patients

Anyone about to undergo transplant surgery – whether receiving or giving an organ – needs to be even more careful about contracting measles. To make sure you’re safe, we’ll be screening all pre-transplant patients and potential living donors born after 1957. Your nurse coordinator may reach out to you. In preparation, we wanted to provide you with the guidelines for how the measles screening will work:
  • Your physician will need to verify that you have two documented doses of the measles vaccine. If you do have the documentation, you won’t need to go through a screening test.
  • If the team isn’t able to confirm two documented doses of measles vaccine, you’ll be screened for immunity with a measles antibody IgG test.
  • Household and family members of transplant patients, transplant candidates and potential living donors should be vaccinated against measles too. If they were born after 1957, have not had measles and have not received two doses of the measles vaccine, they should be vaccinated by their primary providers. 
  • Household and family members of transplant patients, transplant candidates and potential living donors in high-risk jobs, such as teachers, daycare workers and pediatric healthcare workers, should have their immunization status checked and get re-vaccinated if needed.
  • Note: Organs for transplant from deceased donors with active measles at the time of death will not be accepted.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call 215-662-6200 or contact your nurse coordinator. You can also contact your provider through MyPennMedicine.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I Wanna Hold Your Hand: Hand Washing Tips

Since Valentine’s Day may lead to more hand holding than usual, we thought a quick review of hand washing hygiene might be helpful.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a five-step hand washing protocol: Wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. Most people do these steps automatically, but small changes can help increase the effectiveness of your hand washing and maximize the removal of disease-causing germs. Check out the list below to make sure you’re getting the most out your hand washing efforts:
  • Wet your hands with clean, warm or cold running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap being sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds which is about the same amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
In addition to recommendations on how to properly wash your hands, there are also important guidelines for when to wash your hands. Here are 10 activities that are wisely coupled with hand washing:
  1. Before, during and after preparing food
  2. Before eating food
  3. Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  4. Before and after treating a cut or wound
  5. After using the toilet
  6. After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  7. After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  8. After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  9. After handling pet food or pet treats
  10. After touching garbage
If you’d like to understand the science behind the hand washing recommendations, the CDC website offers a synopsis of the studies on which the recommendations are based.

From the Penn Lung Transplant team, we wish you love, happiness and health this Valentine's Day.