Transplant Patient Reunites with Care Team

by Columbia Surgery on January 30, 2014

Twenty years after receiving a heart and double-lung transplant at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, grateful patient Sean Kunzli and his family came to New York City for a celebratory reunion with his surgeon, Craig R. Smith, MD, and the team that performed this lifesaving surgery. Born with congenital heart disease, Mr. Kunzli underwent the risky and rare transplant in December 1993. Today, Mr. Kunzli is healthy and, according to Dr. Smith, one of the longest surviving recipients of a heart and double-lung transplant.


Sheila Ryan, Mr. Kunzli’s mother; John Siceloff and his wife, Birgit Jorgensen, NP, who was a transplant coordinator at NYP/Columbia in 1993 and is now at NYP/Weill Cornell; Deborah Songailo-Cottrill, Mr. Kunzli’s cousin; Dr. Craig R. Smith, Surgeon-in-Chief, NYP/Columbia; Sean Kunzli; Chelsea Kunzli, Mr. Kunzli’s daughter; Wendy Kunzli-Schaub, Mr. Kunzli’s sister; and Dr. Mark E. Ginsburg, Associate Director of Thoracic Surgery, NYP/Columbia

*Courtesy NY Press January 2014*


New Faculty Appointment: Joseph Costa, DHSc, PA-C

by Columbia Surgery on October 29, 2013

Joseph Costa, DHSc, P

Joseph Costa, DHSc, PA-C

Instructor in Clinical Surgical Sciences (in Surgery), Division of Thoracic Surgery

Joseph Costa, DHSc, PA-C, is the first Physician Assistant to become a faculty member at NYP/Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He gained this historic status through a unique path that began with his position as Dr. Craig Smith’s private PA in Cardiothoracic Surgery (2000-2010). There he began his role as a key oversight team member on pediatric and adult heart procurements, and later in performing lung procurements. When he became the Chief PA in Thoracic Surgery and Lung Transplantation, his role expanded to include complete responsibility for all aspects of onsite evaluation of potential lung allografts for transplant, which included review of chest x-rays, CT scans, and intraoperative bronchoscopy.

His duties as lead surgeon include performing and teaching the intraoperative evaluation, cardiac dissection and cannulation for perfusion of lung allografts, and performing the en-bloc pneumonectomy. In addition, Dr. Costa is responsible for evaluating and performing the operative phase in re-operative donors and Donation after Cardiac Death (DCD) donors.

Along with his clinical responsibilities, Dr. Costa has taught and mentored surgical interns and fellows since 2003. He was featured in the book, “The Surgeons,” casted in the movie “Awake” as a transplant surgeon, and is the author of numerous journal articles, abstracts, and poster presentations. He is the recipient of numerous awards including CUMC’s PA of the Year in 2011. Having earned his Doctorate in Health Science with a focus on Health Policy and in combination with Dr. Costa’s unique surgical and teaching experience, a motion was made to appoint him as faculty at Columbia P&S, which was granted this year.

Dr. Costa wishes to acknowledge the effort by Dr. Joshua Sonett in helping to facilitate this unique PA role and its evolution into the division’s current model. He also includes a special thanks to Drs. Frank D’Ovidio and Matthew Bacchetta for their tremendous support.


Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers on the Rise: Lung Cancer Awareness Day Preview

October 28, 2013

TweetOn Saturday November 16, the Columbia University Department of Surgery will be hosting Lung Cancer Awareness Day at the medical center campus in Washington Heights. To learn more about this program we spoke with Joshua R. Sonett, MD, Section Chief, General Thoracic Surgery, who will be speaking at this event. Question: This is the first […]

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Spotlight on Graduating Chief Resident Dr. Jeffrey Javidfar

June 28, 2013

TweetJeffrey Javidfar, MD is a recently graduated member of the 2013 class at Columbia University Medical School’s Surgical Residency Program. Dr. Javidfar began his studies here in 2007, and is currently pursuing a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at Duke University. Before he left we caught up with him to learn more about his experience here […]

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2013 Lung Cancer CME: Updates and Challenges in Lung Cancer

June 11, 2013

TweetIf you are a medical professional involved with the management of patients with lung cancer, be sure to attend the 2013 Lung Cancer CME: Updates and Challenges in Lung Cancer Friday, June 21. This one-day CME accredited educational course will focus on challenging aspects of lung cancer care as well as updates on screening, work-up, […]

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CT Lung Cancer Screening Program

May 13, 2013

TweetLung cancer screening with computed tomography (CT) effectively detects lung cancer at an early stage when it has the best chances of being fully removed and cured. Screening is performed before the onset of any symptoms; patients who exhibit any symptoms undergo diagnostic testing prescribed by their doctors. Based on the landmark National Lung Screening […]

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Kevin Rogers Golf Outing & Dinner to Support the ECMO Team

May 6, 2013

TweetLast May, Kevin Rogers, a previously healthy 25 year-old, developed a life-threatening pneumonia that progressed to the point where his lungs and other organs completely failed.  His pneumonia was so severe and his oxygen level so low that even a mechanical ventilator and other intensive treatments could not keep him alive – Kevin was dying.  […]

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Diaphragmatic Pacing Program

May 3, 2013

TweetTherapy improves quality of life for paralyzed patients by eliminating the need for mechanical respiration. We’ve been hearing a lot recently about the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and the serious challenges they now face. Meanwhile, the Thoracic Surgery Section is helping a different set of patients to cope with unique disabilities and health […]

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Save the Date: Sharing Life Day

April 7, 2013

TweetReserve your place at the Transplant Forum April 28, 2013. Has your life been touched in any way by organ transplantation? If so, you may already appreciate that every organ transplant is made possible by unprecedented collaboration among scores of people. Obvious contributors include the surgeons, physicians, and nurses who perform organ transplantation every day. […]

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Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation Receives UNOS Silver Award

October 5, 2012

TweetThe Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation (CLDT) at NYP/Columbia received a Silver Medal of Honor for achieving and sustaining national goals for organ donation. The award, which reflects transplants done between April 1, 2010, through March 31, 2012, was presented by the Department of Health and Human Services at the United Network for Organ […]

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