September 19, 2005

Susanne Hartman
(215) 349-5964


Penn Lab Performs Its 2500th Endomyocardial Biopsy Procedure
2-year-old Biopsy Procedure Lab Has Highest Patient-Volume in Philadelphia

(Philadelphia, PA) - Another milestone has been reached in the Heart Failure and Transplantation Program of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. In continuing to meet the goals of providing centralized outpatient care services for heart failure and cardiac transplant patients -- a procedure area was built and opened in July 2003 in the Penn Tower building. It was built in this location to accommodate our patients who were already receiving cardiac care services including physician and nursing visits, echocardiography, phlebotomy, exercise testing, financial counseling, social services and research. On September 13, 2005, the heart transplant staff performed the 2500th endomyocardial biopsy procedure at this site. This effort involves coordination of services by staff from the heart failure and transplantation program, the catheterization lab, as well as radiology. Prior to the opening of the procedure area, patients went to the HUP cardiac catheterization laboratory located in the hospital for their biopsy.

About the Biopsy…
The biopsy procedure is unique to heart transplant patients. Other transplant patients can simply undergo blood or breathing tests to make sure their body is still accepting the donated organ. However, heart transplant patients must, for the rest of their lives, take immune suppression medication and have routine biopsies conducted. During this procedure, a catheter is inserted into a vein in the neck and routed into the right side of the heart. Once in the right ventricle, technicians remove about 4-5 tiny pieces (about the size of a tip of a pencil). These pieces are then sent to pathology to be studied to see if there is any problem with the immune system and rejection of the heart. This is an ongoing process for heart transplant recipients… done weekly, then monthly for approximately 5 years.

About the Patient….
He’s 66 years young! After three heart attacks and two operations, Anthony Branco waited a year for his new heart -- and received it in March of 2000. This former Philadelphia police officer and now part-time hospital security guard lives in Northeast Philadelphia. His wife, Linda, is a technician in HUP’s cardiac stress lab. Branco, who earned the nickname of “the Mayor” after spending so much time in the heart failure and transplantation hospital unit while waiting for his donor heart, said “I truly wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the wonderful team here and the donor who gave me his heart.”


PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn’s School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes: its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, consistently rated one of the nation’s “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home health care and hospice.

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