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OHSU Restarts Heart Transplants

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

First case since 2018 marks comeback

When Dr. Danny Jacobs (above) took the reigns as president of Oregon Health & Science University in 2018, he pledged to restart the hospital’s heart transplant program and he heavily recruited to replace the cardiologists who left. The program is now back with the first heart transplant performed at OHSU in late March. Photo courtesy OHSU

(AP) — Oregon Health & Science University officials say a heart transplant was performed there in late March, marking the first such procedure in the state since 2018.

A 68-year-old Oregonian is recovering at after receiving the transplant on March 27, hospital officials said. It’s the first transplant at OHSU since the university’s Heart Failure and Transplant Program reactivated last August. The hospital had to rebuild the program when five cardiologists and a transplant surgeon quit, and the state’s only heart transplant program was put on hold in August 2018.

The physician departures followed a string of patient deaths in 2017, placing OHSU’s program as among the worst places in the U.S. to receive a heart transplant, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

OHSU President Danny Jacobs committed to restarting the program and heavily recruited to replace the cardiologists who left.

Johannes Steiner, the transplant cardiologist OHSU hired in August 2019 to restart the program, said that the heart transplant team is happy with the results of the first transplant. Junior cardiologists Nalini Colaco and Luke Masha were hired shortly before Steiner.

Steiner is OHSU’s only senior transplant cardiologist until April 13 when Deborah Meyers will take over as head of the transplant program.

Meyers directed heart failure programs at Salinas Valley Medical Center in Salinas, Calif., and Texas Heart Institute at Baylor University in Houston.

Providence Health in Portland also planned to start a rival heart transplant program after absorbing all of OHSU’s patients and some of its staff. The hospital also earned a large donation from Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny. Providence has put those plans on hold during the new coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

Jacobs said that as long as the federal government doesn’t change its guidance, OHSU is prepared to continue performing heart transplant and other life-saving procedures during COVID-19.

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