An internationally recognized physician who performed more than 100 lung transplants has joined the University of Florida Health Shands Children’s Hospital to lead the pediatric pulmonary division and resume its pediatric transplant program. Marc G. Schecter, M.D., comes to UF Health from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he founded its lung transplant program.
Once the program is re-established at UF Health, Schecter said he hopes to do at least three to five lung transplants a year. Just one U.S. hospital performs more than about 10 pediatric lung transplants annually. Worldwide, only about 100 lung transplants are done in children each year. While building patient volume is important because it keeps transplant teams sharp and experienced, Schecter said he will focus first on patient outcomes.
“Volumes are important but, for now, the emphasis will be on patients’ outcomes and their quality of life,” Schecter said.
Schecter said he was attracted to UF Health for many reasons, including its expertise and accomplishments in adult lung transplants. The UF Health adult lung transplant is No. 1 in the nation for one-year, risk-adjusted survival rates, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. Achieving similar types of success in pediatric lung transplants was an appealing challenge, Schecter said. UF Health’s last pediatric lung transplant was performed in 2019.
In addition to serving as director of the Pediatric Lung Transplant Program, Schecter is a professor and the division chief of pediatric pulmonology in the UF College of Medicine’s department of pediatrics. The opportunity to teach and do research while working with highly regarded colleagues also made the UF Health position compelling, he said. Indeed, Schecter has stepped into a thriving program: Earlier this month, the pediatric pulmonology program earned its highest-ever ranking — No. 21 in the nation — from U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospital Rankings. For a fourth consecutive year, it is also the top-ranked program in Florida. Overall, UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital is ranked No. 1 in Florida.
Schecter is one of fewer than 15 pulmonologists in the United States with extensive pediatric lung transplant experience. As medical director at the University of Cincinnati’s lung transplant program, Schecter had broad oversight of clinical protocols, team management and patient care.
That experience and Schecter’s talent will benefit both young transplant patients and younger faculty members, said Desmond A. Schatz, M.D., the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital’s interim physician-in-chief and interim chair of the UF College of Medicine’s department of pediatrics.
As they discussed the opening at UF Health, Schatz said much common ground emerged.
“Dr. Schecter brings not only a wealth of experience but also something I see as critical and exciting: mentoring our younger talent. He is exceptionally capable of doing that while also developing UF Health as a destination for pediatric lung transplants and pulmonology care,” Schatz said.
As a researcher, Schecter’s work has focused on clinical trials to improve pediatric lung transplant outcomes as well as the risk factors that drive poor outcomes. He has authored or co-authored more than three dozen journal articles and 75 abstracts. He attended medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. After a pediatric residency and pediatric pulmonary medicine fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, he joined the faculty at the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.