PHILADELPHIA — Marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the program, Penn Medicine physicians have completed their 1000th lifesaving heart transplant at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). The 1000th patient was transplanted on Sunday, December 2, 2012 and is doing well.
“This milestone was made possible by the tireless dedication of a multidisciplinary team at the Penn Medicine Heart & Vascular Center over the last two decades, including cardiologists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nursing staff, nutritionists, social workers, and transplant nurse practitioners and nurses,” said Lee R. Goldberg, MD, MPH, medical director, Penn Medicine Heart Failure and Transplantation Program. “Working closely with our patients and their families and our partners at Gift of Life Donor Program, we’ve been able to make significant progress in heart transplantation care."
Established in 1987, the Penn Medicine heart transplant program, part of the Penn Transplant Institute’s multi-organ transplant center at HUP, has been at the forefront of medical care and clinical advances in the area of heart failure and heart transplantation, including offering multiple organ transplantation – such as heart-lung and heart-liver transplants.
The program performs more adult heart transplants per year than all other Philadelphia area hospitals combined, making it one of the top three heart transplantation programs in the nation. Even though the program’s faculty and staff treat some of the most complex cases, Penn Medicine’s heart transplant outcomes are among the nation’s best, with three-year survival rates greater than 80 percent.
As a leader in transplantation technology since the program’s foundation, Penn was the first heart transplant center in the Philadelphia region to receive certification for total artificial heart (TAH-t) implantation, performing the first TAH-t operation in the Northeast in 2007. That patient later went on to receive a full heart transplant, and is alive and well today. Cardiologists and surgeons at Penn have also been leaders in testing the latest in mechanical cardiac devices, such as ventricular assist devices (VADs), which support or replace heart functions while patients are on the transplant waiting list, or as permanent therapy when transplant is not an option. The program is the largest mechanical circulatory support program in the region, placing more ventricular assist devices than any other program in the Delaware Valley.
Continuing this tradition of innovation, today Penn works to establish new scientific partnerships and support active research programs that give patients early access to the latest in transplantation science and post-transplant care. The program is a member of the prestigious National Institute of Health’s Clinical Trials in Organ Transplant Network and has enrolled the most patients in the network’s current heart transplant trial.
The program also serves as a national resource for training the next generation of physicians. Within the last few years, physicians involved with the program became among the first in the nation to receive certification in a new cardiology subspecialty, Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology. The new specialty was created because of the rapid progress in treatment options for patients with heart failure and the ever-growing need to monitor, assess, and advance these new technologies for patients. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), responsible for accrediting the majority of graduate medical training programs for physicians in the U.S., recognized the experience of the program and certified it to train up to four Cardiology Fellows annually in this new specialty.
Also marking its silver anniversary, the program recently received a 2012 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Bronze Medal of Honor award for its success in increasing the number of organs available and transplanted in the United States. This achievement was also made possible by donor families and their loved ones who gave the gift of life through organ donation.