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CardioVascular Center

Heart Failure + Cardiac Transplant Center

Giving people suffering from heart failure a renewed lease on life

At the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Center at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, more patients leave our center every year with new hearts and a renewed lease on life than any other program in New England. Within our CardioVascular Center, you will find some of the top cardiology specialists in the nation in the areas of heart failure, cardiac transplant and mechanical cardiac circulatory support.

Partial image of the path from start to finish of a heart transplantWe performed our first heart transplant in 1985, and in 2016, we performed 56 heart transplants, more than we have ever done in a year. In late August, a 24-year-old man from Providence, Rhode Island became the 38th heart transplant recipient at Tufts MC in 2016, making Tufts MC the first hospital in New England to perform that many procedures in one year. The previous New England heart transplant record was 37 procedures in 1991. Our team is also recognized as a leader in the implantation of ventricular assist devices (VADs). For more about the VAD, see "What is a VAD?" below.

Our outcomes following heart transplants and ventricular assist device implants are among the best in the country. At our center, you will be treated by some of the most experienced physicians in their fields, including: 

Leadership in research and education leads to outstanding care

Our researchers are continually investigating novel approaches to treating patients with the entire range of cardiac problems, from asymptomatic cardiac dysfunction to end-stage heart failure. In fact, our doctors helped develop the national guidelines for the care of heart failure patients. And we continually offer clinical research trials to explore new treatments and procedures.

Members of our teaching faculty were instrumental in officially launching the field of Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology. Our program was accredited in 2012 as a training program in this new and highly specialized field.

Working closely with your hometown doctor

We collaborate with a network of cardiovascular specialists throughout New England and Upstate New York. Additionally, we prioritize working closely with your own primary care doctor and cardiologist to chart the best diagnostic and treatment strategy for your long-term health, helping you receive exceptional and continuous care close to your home.

A heart transplant is an operation that replaces a damaged or diseased heart with a healthy heart. The healthy heart comes from another person who has suffered brain death, but whose heart is working normally.

Conditions leading to transplant

Heart transplants are performed in patients with end stage heart failure when other treatments have been unsuccessful. Some of these complex conditions include:

  • Ischemic heart disease / Coronary artery disease
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Cardiac amyloidosis
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Valvular heart disease

Before surgery

To receive a heart transplant, it must first be determined that you are a viable candidate. An evaluation will be completed by our transplant team to check if you:

  • Have a heart condition that would benefit from a transplant
  • Are healthy enough to undergo the surgery and the post-transplant treatments
  • Are willing to follow the medical program outlined by our transplant team

Once the benefits and risks of a transplant are weighed, if it is decided that you are a candidate for a heart transplant, you will be put on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting list.

When a possible match is found, you will be contacted immediately by our team. A last evaluation will be done upon your arrival to confirm suitability.

What to expect after surgery

After you have received your new heart, you will stay in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for 3-5 days before moving to a regular hospital room for up to 2 weeks. Upon leaving Tufts Medical Center, you will be closely monitored by our transplant team through follow-up visits as the immediate months following the procedure are crucial. We will check for signs of rejection, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Infrequent urination
  • Weight gain

Tests involving blood work, echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, and heart biopsies will also be performed. Some long-term adjustments that can be expected include:

  • Taking immuno suppresant medications
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Adhering to a strict low-bacteria diet
  • Follow-up visits monthly for the first year
  • Follow-up visits every three months for years 1-5
  • Follow-up visits every six months after 5 years

A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump that is surgically implanted into the chest when heart function is severely impaired. It does not replace the heart, but assists the failing ventricle to circulate adequate blood flow around the body. VADs are powered by an electricity source from outside the body.
 
The majority of VADs are implanted in the left ventricle (LVAD), which is the main pumping chamber of the heart, although occasionally patients may require support for both the left and right sides of the heart. A VAD is usually implanted either as a ‘bridge to transplantation’, to keep patients as stable and physically active as possible while they await a donor heart, or as ‘destination therapy’ for patients who are not eligible for a heart transplant. The choice of VAD depends upon whether it is implanted as a bridge to transplantation or destination therapy, as well as several anatomical considerations. 

The two major VADs used at Tufts Medical Center are shown below in two helpful videos.

Abbott HeartMate 3: Left Ventricular Assist Device

To view this video, visit St. Jude Medical's website here.

HeartWare Ventricular Assist System

The HeartWare Ventricular Assist System is a small centrifugal pump used for mechanical circulatory support in patients with advanced congestive heart failure.

 

Marvin A. Konstam, MD

Marvin A. Konstam, MD

Title(s): Chief Physician Executive, The CardioVascular Center; Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-6293
Fax #: 617-636-7667

Heart failure, cardiac transplant

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James E. Udelson, MD

James E. Udelson, MD

Title(s): Chief, Division of Cardiology; Director, Nuclear Cardiology Laboratory; Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8066
Fax #: 617-636-7175

Cardiac imaging, heart failure

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Frederick  Y. Chen, MD, PhD

Frederick Y. Chen, MD, PhD

Title(s): Chief, Cardiac Surgery; Professor of Surgery, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Surgery, CardioVascular Center, Cardiac Surgery
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5590
Fax #: 617-636-6410

Surgical treatment of acquired heart disease, surgical repair of valvular heart disease, minimally invasive surgery, arrhythmia surgery, heart transplantation, circulatory assist devices, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

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Gregory  S. Couper, MD

Gregory S. Couper, MD

Title(s): Surgical Director, Advanced Heart Failure Program
Department(s): Surgery, CardioVascular Center, Cardiac Surgery
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5590
Fax #: 617-636-6410

General cardiac/thoracic surgery

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David DeNofrio, MD

David DeNofrio, MD

Title(s): Director, Advanced Heart Failure Program; Associate Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Heart failure, cardiac transplantation

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Edward W. Grandin, MD, MPH, MEd

Edward W. Grandin, MD, MPH, MEd

Title(s): Cardiologist
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Heart failure

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Navin K. Kapur, MD, FAHA, FACC, FSCAI

Navin K. Kapur, MD, FAHA, FACC, FSCAI

Title(s): Executive Director, The CardioVascular Center for Research and Innovation (CVCRI); Director, Acute Mechanical Circulatory Support Program; Director, Interventional Research Laboratories; Director of Cardiac Biology Research Center, Molecular Cardiology Research Institute (MCRI); Associate Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8252
Fax #: 617-636-5913

Interventional cardiology, advanced heart failure, mechanical circulatory support

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Michael S. Kiernan, MD, MSc

Michael S. Kiernan, MD, MSc

Title(s): Director, Ventricular Assist Device Program; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Heart failure, cardiac transplantation, ventricular assist devices

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Robb Kociol, MD

Robb Kociol, MD

Title(s): Cardiologist
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Advanced heart failure, cardiac transplant, mechanical circulation support

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Alan T. Kono, MD

Alan T. Kono, MD

Title(s): Cardiologist; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Heart failure

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Daniel Levine, MD

Daniel Levine, MD

Title(s): Cardiologist
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Heart failure, coronary artery disease

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Ayan R. Patel, MD

Ayan R. Patel, MD

Title(s): Director, Cardiovascular Imaging and Hemodynamic Laboratory; Director, Women's Heart Center; Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-2273
Fax #: 617-636-8070

Echocardiography, heart failure, women's heart disease

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Richard D. Patten, MD

Richard D. Patten, MD

Title(s): Cardiologist
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Heart failure

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Hassan Rastegar, MD

Hassan Rastegar, MD

Title(s): Senior Cardiothoracic Surgeon; Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Surgery, CardioVascular Center, Cardiac Surgery
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5590
Fax #: 617-636-6410

Surgical treatment of acquired heart disease, surgical repair of valvular heart disease, surgical repair of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, minimally invasive surgery, arrhythmia surgery, heart transplantation, circulatory assist devices

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Marwa A. Sabe, MD

Marwa A. Sabe, MD

Title(s): Cardiologist
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Heart failure

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Jeffrey Shih, MD

Jeffrey Shih, MD

Title(s): Cardiologist
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Cardiology, heart failure

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Jenica Upshaw, MD

Jenica Upshaw, MD

Title(s): Medical Director, Cardio-Oncology Program; Attending Physician, Advanced Heart Failure; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-2273
Fax #: 617-636-5913

Cardio-oncology, heart failure

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David M. Venesy, MD

David M. Venesy, MD

Title(s): Cardiologist; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-7175

Heart failure

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Amanda Vest, MBBS, MPH

Amanda Vest, MBBS, MPH

Title(s): Associate Medical Director, Cardiac Transplantation Program; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Cardiology, heart failure, heart transplantation, mechanical circulatory support

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Kenneth G. Warner, MD

Kenneth G. Warner, MD

Title(s): Senior Cardiothoracic Surgeon; Associate Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Surgery, CardioVascular Center, Cardiac Surgery
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5590
Fax #: 617-636-6410

Surgical management of adult and pediatric heart disease, heart transplantation

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Rayan Yousefzai, MD

Rayan Yousefzai, MD

Title(s): Cardiologist
Department(s): Medicine, CardioVascular Center, Cardiology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-8068
Fax #: 617-636-6030

Heart failure

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Yong  Zhan, MD

Yong Zhan, MD

Title(s): Cardiothoracic Surgeon; Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Surgery, CardioVascular Center, Cardiac Surgery
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5590
Fax #: 617-636-6410

Surgical treatment of acquired heart disease, surgical repair of valvular heart disease minimally invasive surgery, arrhythmia surgery, heart transplantation, circulatory assist devices

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617-636-2273 (CARD)

An illustration of a heart at Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston, MA.

The Journey to a Heart Transplant

Understand how we treat each individual heart transplant patient at Tufts Medical Center.

View our Infographic
David DeNofrio, MD on tuftsmedicalcenter.tv.

Heart Failure and Transplant

Watch David DeNofrio, MD discuss the causes of heart failure, how it’s treated and when a transplant is needed.

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