University of Pennsylvania Health System

Lung Transplant Update | Penn Medicine

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.

Monday, February 2, 2015

February Support Group: Finances Q&A

Date: Monday, February 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: Finances

One of the first things our patients ask when they're told they need a lung transplant is: What's the cost? You want to know if insurance will cover the procedure, hospitalization and other associated payments. If you don’t live in the area, you worry about travel, lodging and meal expenses. We know that even though your health is the main priority, hospital bills and other costs can really take their toll and make an already scary time even more stressful.

We’ve found that knowing all of your options, what to expect and where to find the information and support you need ahead of time can help take some of the stress away. That’s why Penn Lung Transplant’s next support group session will provide direction and answers about finances. The discussion will be led by financial manager, Andrew Haas, BS, and program manager, Christopher Erickson, MSW. It will be in a Q&A format, so please bring questions regarding health insurance, prescription coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act, disability and anything else you may be confused about or need details on.

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

We look forward to seeing you on Monday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Transplant Nurse's Day Essay Contest 2015

At the Penn Transplant Institute, transplant nurses play a critical role in every patient’s transplant journey. Providing personalized care is a hallmark of the Penn Lung Transplant Program. While every patient’s story is unique, they share the experience of having worked closely with transplant nurses before transplant, at the time of transplant and during the post-transplant recovery phase. Lung transplant nurses work in a variety of settings: Some are coordinators or nurse practitioners, while others care for patients on Silverstein 10 or 11 or in one of the intensive care units. The International Transplant Nurses Society (ITNS) is inviting patients to recognize their transplant nurses by submitting an essay to the 2015 Transplant Nurse’s Day Essay Contest.

To help celebrate the special contributions of transplant nurses, the ITNS created this essay contest in conjunction with the annual Transplant Nurses Day Celebration. This year, Transplant Nurses Day is April 15. A submission to the ITNS Essay Contest is an excellent opportunity to recognize an ITNS transplant nurse who has made a difference in your life.

Participation in the essay contest is open to any transplant patient currently, or formerly, under the care of a transplant nurse who is a member of ITNS. This can be a nurse who cared for you anywhere throughout your experience at Penn. Not sure if the nurse you have in mind is a member of ITNS? Just ask! Send a quick email through MyPennMedicine directly to the Penn Transplant team member who you’d like to nominate.

The theme of this year’s contest is "Why I Celebrate My Transplant Nurse." Judges will be reviewing your essay to learn:
  • What is unique about your nominee? 
  • Why is he or she important to you or your family, or both?
  • How did your nominee make a difference in your life?
The essay should be 300 to 500 words in length and be formatted to fit on one page.

The winning essay will be featured in a future issue of the ITNS Insider newsletter. The winning nurse will receive a recognition award and a letter will be sent to his or her supervisor. He or she will also be acknowledged on the ITNS website and in an ITNS E-Updates membership e-mail.

To submit your entry you’ll need the following:
  • A copy of the completed entry form
  • A 300-to-500-word essay focusing on the topic "Why I Celebrate My Transplant Nurse" -- Each essay must be original, authentic, unpublished and the sole property of the entrant.
  • Your personal information, printed in the top-right corner of the essay:
    • First and last name
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Email
The deadline for submission is March 13, 2015. Entries can be emailed to or mailed to:
8735 W. Higgins Road, Suite 300
Chicago, IL 60631

For more information, call the International Transplant Nurses Society at 847.375.6340. Information can also be found online at