Strong Memorial Hospital Performs Its First Heart Transplant

February 08, 2001

A 58-year-old Rochester man received a new heart early Wednesday morning, becoming the first patient to undergo a cardiac transplant as part of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation at Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The patient, David Beatson, was the first to be placed on the cardiac transplant list for Strong Memorial's program. His name was entered into the database of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) on Jan. 26.

Mr. Beatson was diagnosed in 1995 with cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle that causes enlargement of the organ, making it an inefficient pump. The cause of his cardiomyopathy is unclear, although it may have been from a virus.

The surgery began at about 1 a.m. Wednesday and Mr. Beatson was resting in the cardiac intensive care unit at 7 a.m. He is doing well today in guarded condition in the cardiac ICU. Mr. Beatson could be upgraded to satisfactory condition and moved to a regular cardiac unit within a week.

"Although our first heart transplant procedure was done in a matter of hours, it has taken many months of hard work to establish this program," says Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., director and senior transplant cardiologist for the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation. "Each of our team members - including our surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and our friends at the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network - have worked tirelessly to make heart transplantation in Rochester a reality."

Chen leads the transplant program with H. Todd Massey, M.D., who joined the medical center last fall as the program's senior transplant surgeon.

"We are pleased we could provide Mr. Beatson with a heart transplant in his hometown, close to family and friends and his doctors," Massey says. "That is the reason we began the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation - to care for the patients here in Upstate New York."

The Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation was developed to complete the full continuum of cardiac care in the region. For many years, patients had to endure the economic and emotional hardship of moving to another city or state, in order to be eligible for a transplant. Now, patients in need of a transplant are able to stay near their support network of family and friends, and close to familiar physicians.

The program complements the comprehensive transplant services long provided by Strong Memorial Hospital. Approved by UNOS, the program is an addition to existing, successful transplant programs for kidney, pancreas, small bowel, liver and bone marrow. Strong Memorial Hospital began its kidney transplant program in 1966, and since then more than 950 transplants have been performed. The bone marrow/stem cell transplant program, started in 1989, has completed more than 900 transplants. Since the first liver transplant was performed in 1995, more than 200 patients have been successfully treated. Strong Memorial also performs live-donor kidney and liver transplants, which allow a living donor to give a kidney or a portion of his or her liver to someone in need.

The Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, Strong Memorial's organ procurement organization, performs well above the national average in organ recovery. In fact, the network has been the best in the state for eight out of 10 years, and is in the top 10 percent in placing organs for transplantation. The network covers 19 counties with a population of 2.4 million, and serves 44 hospitals and two transplant centers.

"Organ donation is an act of love and allows families to find some good that can be accomplished in the middle of a tragedy," says William Morris, executive director of the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network. "It is ordinary people doing extraordinary things at the worst possible time in their lives."

For more information about organ donation, call 1-800-810-5494 or log on to

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Karin Christensen
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