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UPMC Transplant Surgeon to Bike across America to Help Raise Funds for Lung Research and Awareness of Organ Donation


Brack Hattler, M.D., Ph.D., the Katherine DuRoss Ford Chair of Cardiothoracic Transplantation and Professor of Surgery, Division of Cardiac Surgery, The Heart, Lung and Esophageal Surgery Institute (HLESI), UPMC, will embark on a 3,300-mile bicycle journey from Seattle to Washington, D.C. beginning June 25 and ending August 11 to help raise funds for the American Lung Association (ALA) of Washington’s “Bike Ride Across America Campaign.”

The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a program of both the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, is sponsoring his ride and will keep an update of his adventures on their web site at . Dr. Hattler, who also is director of McGowan’s Medical Devices and Artificial Organs research program has been preparing for the cross-country journey by riding approximately 200 miles a week for the past four months on his Roubaix-style bike (similar to the Trek bike that Lance Armstrong rode during the Tour de France). At 71 years old, his goal is to complete the race and raise funds and awareness for the ALA in support of lung disease research.

According to the ALA, lung disease is the number three killer in America and responsible for one in seven deaths. Today, more than 35 million Americans are living with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. For those with end-stage lung disease, a transplant remains the only option. Some diseases that cause the lungs to fail and require transplantation include emphysema , including the form caused by the alpha-1-antitrypsin-deficiency , pulmonary fibrosis , fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension. According to recent statistics provided by the United Network for Organ Sharing, (UNOS) approximately 3,500 people in the United States are waiting for a lung transplant, yet only 1,000 actually receive one each year.

Dr. Hattler partnered with the American Lung Association of Washington when the family members of several of his patients made him aware that this ride was being organized. He has ridden bikes all his life and completed 300 to 500 mile-long rides but none quite as long as this. His unique involvement with lung transplant patients serves as his inspiration for becoming involved in this race and gives him the courage to accept the challenge that lies before him.

“This bike ride provides me with a once in a lifetime opportunity to get out and see parts of the country I’ve never seen before with fellow bikers who share the passion of helping to raise funds for important lung disease research,” says Dr. Hattler. “I see firsthand the effects of living with lung disease, patients who can barely breathe or walk. If I can help in some small way to bring more quality to their lives, it makes this journey all the more worthwhile.”

Dr. Hattler’s wife, Jean Anne, intends to ride alongside him for portions of the race for a total of approximately 800 of the 3,300 miles.

Prior to his arrival at UPMC, Dr. Hattler developed and patented an Intravenous Membrane Oxygenator. This device was originally conceived and patented because of the significant need for new forms of therapy in the treatment of reversible lung injury. Presently, Dr. Hattler and his research personnel are focusing their efforts on the development of the Hattler Respiratory Support Catheter, emphasizing various means for improving gas exchange in artificial lung devices. Dr. Hattler hopes to have the device ready for U.S.-based trials within the next 18 months. Currently, there are on-going active clinical trials in Europe.

UPMC is one of the oldest, most experienced centers in the world for lung and heart-lung transplantation. Since 1982, UPMC transplant specialists have performed more than 1,000 lung or heart-lung transplants, remaining one of the most active lung transplant centers in the world, and producing outcomes that exceed national standards. According to data released from UNOS, UPMC performed a record 101 lung transplants in 2006, more than any other medical center in the world.


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