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URMC Cardiac Team Celebrates 100th Heart Transplant

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation at the University of Rochester Medical Center has reached a milestone, performing its 100th cardiac transplant surgery. The surgery was performed Feb. 15 by transplant surgeon H. Todd Massey, M.D., surgical director of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation and director of the Artificial Heart Program. The patient, Claudett McAuley of Franklinville, N.Y., is now hospitalized on a cardiac-vascular unit and is stable.

Reaching the 100th is certainly significant, said cardiologist Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation, and it serves as a reminder of all the patients who have been cared for by the team since the program began in 2001. “Yet whether it is the 10th or the 200th case, every patient is a priority. We appreciate the milestone and celebrate the program’s growth, but we are honored to continue with our day-to-day mission of caring for our patients and their families.” The Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation is the largest program in upstate New York and the region’s only comprehensive heart failure and transplant service. It is a national leader in research efforts to further the treatment of heart failure and return patients that suffer from heart failure to healthy and productive lives.

The team listed its first patient, David Beatson of Rochester, in January 2001 and performed Beatson’s transplant 12 days later, on Feb. 7, 2001. Since then, approximately 1,500 patients from across upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania have received care, including not only heart transplants, but also state-of-the-art medical therapy, heart failure surgery, and the implantation of ventricular assist devices (VAD). VADs are implanted pumps that supplement or replace a patient’s heart function to keep them alive and as healthy as possible while they wait for a new heart. They also are used as long-term therapy for patients who are not eligible for transplant. The program’s one-year survival rate is 88.1 percent, according to the most recent available data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. This rate compares favorably with some of the nation’s best transplant centers. Currently there are nearly 50 patients awaiting transplant.

Steady Growth The transplant team has grown steadily over the past seven years in an effort to accommodate the many patients who require care. Chen was recruited from University of Washington and Massey from Duke University Medical Center to develop a comprehensive heart failure and transplant program that would serve upstate residents. They began with a four-member core team made up of one transplant cardiologist, one surgeon, one transplant coordinator and a secretary. Today there are 19 who make up the core group: five cardiologists, four surgeons that participate in transplant cases, three transplant coordinators, two VAD coordinators, a registered nurse, three secretaries, and a program administrator. Also assisting the program are a dedicated physical therapist, social worker, nutritionist and pharmacist, as well as pathology, infectious disease and psychiatry specialists, and numerous other departments. A new heart failure and transplant fellowship also has been created. All provide pre- and post-transplant care and heart failure treatment.

The program also added the life-saving service of a unique Cardiac Critical Care Transport Team composed of cardiac critical care nurses, respiratory therapists, perfusionists and physicians. The team uses a vehicle equipped with cutting-edge technology to assist patients being rushed from outlying areas to the University of Rochester Medical Center for the region’s most comprehensive cardiac care. The program is strengthened by both basic and clinical URMC research that addresses cardiovascular disease, including heart failure and its causes. For example, the work of Burns Blaxall, Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine in the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute, focuses on determining which genes switch on and off during heart failure, with the long-term goal of designing a therapy that increases the heart’s pumping strength. Clinical studies considering medical and surgical therapies are offering patients the latest in treatment options at the earliest opportunity. Clinical ventricular assist device trials led to the program implanting the first HeartMate II device in upstate New York in July 2004, and the innovative Jarvik 2000, implanted in September 2007. More than 200 VADs have been implanted over the past seven years.

“The Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation is truly a signature program at the Medical Center,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “This world-class team of specialists has successfully brought a much-needed cardiac service to upstate New York, one that has saved countless lives by providing access to some of the best heart failure care in the nation.” For more information about the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation, log on to For information about organ donation, call (800) 810-5494 or log on to

Media Contact

Karin Christensen

(585) 275-1311

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