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Tufts MC breaks New England record with 38th heart transplant

08/25/2016

Eclipses 25-year-old record for the most heart transplants at a single center in a calendar year 

August 19, 2016 (BOSTON) – A 24-year-old man from Providence, Rhode Island has become the 38th heart transplant recipient at Tufts Medical Center in 2016, making Tufts MC the first hospital in New England to perform that many procedures in one year. 

“We are less than two-thirds of the way through the calendar year, and we’ve already given a new heart to twice as many patients than in all of 2015,” said David DeNofrio, MD, Director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program at Tufts Medical Center. “Our entire team is in awe of these numbers. It is humbling to be able to give so many people a new lease on life.”

The previous New England heart transplant record at a single center in one calendar year was 37, performed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1991. If the current pace continues, Tufts Medical Center could perform approximately 60 heart transplants this year.

“We have built an outstanding network of providers who trust us and refer to us when it comes to advanced heart failure,” said Marvin Konstam, MD, Chief Physician Executive of the CardioVascular Center at Tufts MC. “Importantly, we also have among the best outcomes in the country.”

Tufts Medical Center has been performing heart transplants for 31 years. This past June, Tufts MC performed four heart transplants in one day – another New England first. Because of the success of its regional partnerships, Tufts Medical Center has had, for some time, a disproportionate number of patients listed for these procedures (currently approximately one-half of the region’s heart transplant waitlist). But the current upsurge at Tufts Medical Center is temporally related to the recruitment of Gregory Couper, MD, to the position of Surgical Director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program. 

“He is one of the most skilled in the business,” explained Frederick Chen, MD, PhD, Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Tufts MC. “The addition of Dr. Couper has allowed us to tackle donor heart procedures that might otherwise be viewed as higher risk.”

Statistics from the United Network For Organ Sharing (UNOS) show a modest increase in the total number of heart transplants performed by the other five heart transplant centers in the region; Tufts MC has seen a near 300 percent increase in heart transplants year over year. According to the New England Organ Bank, the overall increase in available organs may in part be due to a greater number of young, otherwise healthy people dying nationally as a result of drug overdoses and greater awareness about the importance of becoming an organ donor.

While the Tufts MC team notes that having more organs available is a bittersweet trend, it is proud of its success in being the go-to place for heart transplants in New England. Dr. DeNofrio, who has been involved in some 325 successful heart transplants since joining Tufts MC in 1999, says it never gets old.

“We see these patients, some over the course of a few years, as they wait for their names to come up next on the overall list,” said Dr. DeNofrio. “Then we see them after surgery, with big smiles and renewed hope in their new hearts. We are honored to be a part of their journey and their new lives.”

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About Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children

Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center is affiliated with the New England Quality Care Alliance, a network of more than 1,800 physicians throughout Eastern Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org.

Media Contact: Jeremy Lechan
(617) 636-0104
jlechan@tuftsmedicalcenter.org