New lung restoration center coming to Mayo Clinic's Duval County campus

More than 100,000 people are on the list waiting for an organ transplant, but with a new lung restoration facility being built in Jacksonville, doctors are hopeful they will be able to reduce that number.

"My life has completely changed since then," lung transplant recipient, Curtis Higgons said.

Higgons credits that to his double lung transplant.

He said he was undergoing heart surgery when doctors had to immediately add him to the transplant list and within days he said they found a match.

"There's a good chance I wouldn't be here right now," Higgons said.

But he said he was one of the lucky ones who found a match in less than a week to get new lungs.

"I know there has been many people who have waited three to four years and recently got transplant," Higgons said.

However by early 2019, a lung restoration facility will be added to the Mayo Clinic’s Duval County campus.

"It's going to be regenerating lungs that would otherwise be thrown in the trash," professor of medicine Charles Bruce said.

Bruce called the facility a first of its kind in the state.

It will essentially be a hub to restore lungs and get them back to health. Then, he said the lungs will be distributed to people across the country who need transplants.

"Often lungs are damaged to the point they can't be used," Bruce said.

Higgons said he is hopeful it will speed up the process of getting help to the list of people waiting for the organs.

"Being able to house organs hold them for a longer period of time, it's a great, as you know, the list for a transplant is huge," Higgons said.

The third floor of the new facility will be used to attract startup companies to create innovations to benefit patients.

The lung center is expected to create more than 70 jobs.

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