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OHSU performs first heart transplant since re-activating program

Since August 2019, OHSU Heart Failure and Transplant Program has implanted three ventricular assist devices and hired four advanced heart failure cardiologists, including a new section head
3D heart illustration
Since reactivating in August 2019, the OHSU’s Heart Failure and Transplant Program has performed a heart transplant, also successfully implanted three ventricular assist devices, or electromechanical heart pumps called VADs, without complications. (Getty Images)

A 68-year-old Oregonian is recovering at Oregon Health & Science University after receiving a heart transplant on March 27. The procedure marks the first transplant at OHSU since the university’s Heart Failure and Transplant Program reactivated in August 2019.

Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS
Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS

“This heart transplant patient’s ongoing recovery is an encouraging bright spot during the immense challenges of the coronavirus pandemic,” said OHSU President Danny Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., FACS. “We are excited to continue serving our state, region and nation with comprehensive, leading-edge cardiovascular expertise. Like the other statewide transplant programs OHSU has led for the last 60 years, OHSU’s Heart Transplant Program provides a critically important service for many Oregonians.”

The transplant occurred in accordance with federal guidance, which recommends proceeding with transplant surgeries involving organs from deceased donors during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I can’t believe how beautifully my new heart is working and how far I’ve come,” said the heart transplant recipient, who declined to share his name. “I want to congratulate the doctors for how good of a job they’ve done. It’s fantastic.”

“Our team could not be happier about this first successful heart transplantation and we look forward to continuing the patient’s long-term care in partnership with his other community providers,” said Johannes Steiner, M.D., assistant professor of medicine (cardiovascular medicine) in the OHSU School of Medicine, medical director of mechanical circulatory support, and the OHSU Heart Transplant Program’s primary United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, physician. “This transplant confirms our dedication to providing quality cardiovascular services for Oregon’s sickest heart patients.”

Since reactivating in August 2019, the OHSU’s Heart Failure and Transplant Program has also successfully implanted three ventricular assist devices, or electromechanical heart pumps called VADs, without complications.

Deborah Meyers, M.D.
Deborah Meyers, M.D.

In addition, Deborah Meyers, M.D., will start April 13 as the OHSU Heart Failure and Transplant Program director. Meyers comes to OHSU after directing heart failure programs at the Salinas Valley Medical Center in Salinas, California, and the Texas Heart Institute at Baylor University in Houston, Texas. She has nearly 20 years of leadership experience in heart transplantation, mechanical circulatory support devices, advanced heart failure and more.

Meyers is joining OHSU’s comprehensive heart failure team, which includes advanced heart failure cardiologists Nalini Colaco, M.D., Ph.D., Luke Masha, M.D., M.P.H., and Johannes Steiner, M.D.; heart surgeons Howard Song, M.D., Ph.D., and Fred Tibayan, M.D.; and a large multidisciplinary team of social workers, nurse coordinators, pharmacists and other skilled clinicians with extensive expertise in providing advanced cardiovascular services.

Since performing Oregon’s first heart transplant in 1985 OHSU’s highly specialized team has transplanted more than 700 hearts. Today OHSU remains 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 OHSU’s 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.
  • Expertise: Transplant surgeons, critical care specialists and advanced heart failure transplant cardiologists experienced in pre- and post-operative care.
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