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OHSU receives UNOS approval to reactivate Heart Transplant Program

Three advanced heart failure cardiologists join OHSU’s comprehensive team

The United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, has approved OHSU’s new primary physician for heart transplantation, allowing the university to resume heart transplant care. 

The unanimous decision, effective Aug. 26, 2019, comes less than one year after OHSU voluntarily suspended its program due to the departure of four advanced heart failure cardiologists.

Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S.
Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS

“OHSU’s Heart Transplant Program has a long history of serving the state of Oregon, providing more than 700 heart transplant procedures to date. With the successful recruitment of cardiologists from some of the preeminent programs in the country, we are pleased to resume the full spectrum of care for Oregonians with advanced heart failure, in need of heart transplantation,” said OHSU President Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H, FACS.

During the past year, OHSU has aggressively recruited for advanced heart failure cardiologists from around the country while maintaining its existing multidisciplinary team, along with the extensive infrastructure necessary to provide complex cardiovascular services, including heart transplantation, to Oregonians.

To date, OHSU has hired three advanced heart failure specialists it plans to recruit from some of the nation’s top cardiovascular programs:

  • Nalini Colaco, M.D., Ph.D. — University of California San Francisco, California
  • Luke Masha, M.D., M.P.H. — Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Johannes Steiner, M.D. — Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont

Steiner, OHSU’s primary UNOS physician, joins a highly experienced team of surgeons; cardiologists; anesthesiologists; nurses; coordinators; social workers; nutritionists; pharmacists; perfusionists; rehabilitation and respiratory therapists; emergency medicine, infectious disease, critical care medicine and intensive care specialists and nurses; hospitalists; and a host of supporting clinicians and staff specially trained to care for Oregon’s most critically ill patients. He specializes in heart failure, mechanical circulatory support and heart transplant care.

The newly recruited cardiologists join Howard Song, M.D., Ph.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery, and Fred Tibayan, M.D., surgery director for heart failure and transplant, who have performed more heart transplants and implanted more ventricular assist devices than any other surgeons in the state. 

John Hunter, M.D., FACS (2018)
John Hunter, M.D., FACS

“We are thrilled with our progress toward building the right team and receiving the appropriate approvals to provide heart transplants, in addition to mechanical circulatory support devices and many other options for advanced heart failure,” said John Hunter, M.D., FACS, executive vice president and chief executive officer, OHSU health system.

OHSU is the only health system in Oregon with comprehensive support services for heart transplants, including:

  • Multi-organ failure services: On-site access to the skills and expertise offered by other organ transplant programs, including liver and kidney, to ensure effective outcomes.
  • Immunogenetics and Transplantation Lab: A lab that performs tissue compatibility testing for kidney, pancreas, heart, lung, liver and bone marrow transplant.
  • Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit: A 24/7 intensive care unit that manages only the sickest cardiovascular patients.
  • Level 1 Trauma Center: The highest level of 24/7 lifesaving trauma care for patients in urgent need of highly specialized cardiovascular care, including those with heart failure.
  • ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation): cardiac life support for patients with potentially reversible respiratory and/or cardiac failure; OHSU is the only health system in the Pacific Northwest offering air and ground transport for both pulmonary and cardiac adult ECMO patients. 
  • Unmatched expertise -- Transplant surgeons, critical care specialists and advanced heart failure transplant cardiologists experienced in pre- and post-operative care.

OHSU, the state’s only academic health center, performed Oregon’s first heart transplant in 1985.




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