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500th heart transplant completed

06/14/2018

Surgeons performing the 500th heart transplant

On June 6, 2018, Tufts Medical Center reached a landmark milestone in cardiac transplantation when cardiac surgeons, led by Senior Cardiothoracic Surgeon Hassan Rastegar, MD, performed the 500th heart transplant at Tufts MC (see photo on left). The patient, Frank Lalli, 61, from Portsmouth, RI, is recovering well from the procedure.

About the 500th heart transplant

“I am proud to have been a part of the team that was present during the first-ever heart transplant at Tufts Medical Center in 1985,” said Deeb Salem, MD, Co-Interim CEO at Tufts Medical Center (see photo below). “The program has grown exponentially in 33 years and now represents the gold standard for cardiac transplantation in all of New England. It is extremely gratifying to have attained this level of excellence and reaching this milestone only further validates our heart transplant program’s standing among the very best in the country.”

“None of these heart transplants would  have been possible without the generosity of the donor family, the organization, speed and collaboration of the New England Organ Bank and the dedication and flexibility of the entire OR team,” said Gregory Couper, MD, Surgical Director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program at Tufts Medical Center. “It takes all these people working together skillfully, efficiently and expediently to perform a heart transplant. The fact that our program now has accomplished this objective 500 times is truly an affirmation of the outstanding efforts of the countless people who made it possible for more than three decades.”

History of heart transplants at Tufts MC

Marvin Konstam, MD and Deeb Salem, MD at the first heart transplant at Tufts MCSince the year 2000, Tufts MC has performed the most heart transplants in New England (405), more than 50 more than any other hospital in the region. In 2016, Tufts MC completed 56 heart transplants, a New England record that ranked among the top-10 heart transplant programs in the country for volume. According to the most recent Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) data, one-year survival for Tufts Medical Center’s heart transplant patients exceeds 95 percent, well above the national average of 91 percent.

“Our nationally-recognized heart transplant volumes and outcomes have allowed us to establish confidence and collaboration within the medical community,” said David DeNofrio, MD, Medical Director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program at Tufts Medical Center. “This trust has helped us cultivate and grow community partnerships built on communication, mutual goals and delivering results.” 

“We strengthen the heart failure programs of our physician partners throughout the region and keep as much care local as possible,” said Amanda Vest, MBBS, Medical Director of the Cardiac Transplantation Program at Tufts Medical Center. “This grassroots effort has led to a dramatic expansion of our referral network, which now stretches across New England and into upstate New York.” 

Tufts Medical Center’s expert heart failure care expands beyond just cardiac transplantation. The Medical Center is also a national leader in the placement of left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) - mechanical heart pumps used for treating patients with end-stage heart failure. Tufts MC has been an innovator in the field of mechanical circulatory support and is a leading enroller in clinical trials that have resulted in FDA approval of novel LVAD technologies for use in heart failure patients. 

“LVADs can be used for either short- or intermediate-term heart support to keep patients alive while awaiting heart transplantation, or as a long-term or permanent therapy in patients with advanced heart disease who are not eligible for transplantation,” said Michael Kiernan, MD, Director of the Ventricular Assist Device Program at Tufts Medical Center. “These devices have been demonstrated to prolong life and improve quality of life and functionality in patients with end-stage heart failure.” 

To provide this depth and breadth of advanced heart failure expertise, Tufts MC has assembled a dedicated multidisciplinary team of physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, infectious disease specialists, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, administrators, perfusionists and technicians, all working together to deliver optimal patient care and produce best-possible outcomes.

“Achieving 500 heart transplants is a credit to the organization’s compulsive focus on the patient, on quality patient care and on ensuring that our patients and their families are always at the center of everything we do,” said Marvin Konstam, MD, Chief Physician Executive of the CardioVascular Center at Tufts Medical Center, who launched Tufts MC’s advanced heart failure program and was present during Tufts MC’s first-ever heart transplant in 1985. “We have intentionally recruited and hired outstanding heart failure specialists and cardiac surgeons who are experts in the most advanced technologies and techniques, but are also born leaders, great communicators and team players, who are committed to our patients and to each other. This is the formula that has served as the backbone of our program and has fortified its long-term, sustained success.”

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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. The Medical Center features a level one trauma center with rooftop helipad, the largest heart transplant center in New England and a renowned research program, ranking among the top 10 percent of independent hospitals to receive federal research funding. A physician network of 1,800 New England Quality Care Alliance doctors represents our strong commitment to health in the community. Tufts Medical Center is a founding member of Wellforce, along with Circle Health and Hallmark Health. For more information, visit www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org.