Less than three years after restarting its adult heart transplant program, UC Health has completed 17 heart transplants at University of Cincinnati Medical Center and has demonstrated outstanding patient outcomes that have earned certification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
The designation will enable more patients to receive heart transplants and other advanced cardiac care in their own community, rather than having to travel hundreds of miles away or out of state. Today, there are 163 people on the waiting list for a heart transplant in Ohio and 50 in Kentucky.
“When we set this ambitious goal three years ago, we were committed to making heart transplantation and advanced cardiac care available to more members of our community in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region through our multidisciplinary approach to clinical care, research and education,” said UC Health President and CEO Richard P. Lofgren, MD. “To have achieved this goal sooner than anticipated is a credit to our highly-skilled cardiac care team.”
UC Health restarted its adult heart transplant program in late 2015 through the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute, a partnership with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The institute connects clinical practitioners with academic and clinical researchers to make new medical breakthroughs. The institute has recruited some of the nation’s top physicians and researchers in the field of heart transplant and advanced cardiac care.
“As the region’s academic medical center, we are able to provide advanced care and services that nobody else can provide for adults,” said Louis B. Louis IV, chief of cardiac surgery at UC Medical Center and associate professor of Surgery at the UC College of Medicine. “We’re not just helping people live longer, we’re helping them live better.”
Louis performed the program’s first heart transplant in February 2016 on a Hillsboro, Ohio man who suffered heart failure following a massive heart attack. Today, the patient is not only thriving, but has been able to return to work.
In the nearly two years since, 16 additional heart transplants have been performed at UC Medical Center, enabling patients suffering from advanced heart failure to live longer and fuller lives. The program is now within the top 10 percent in the nation for survival rates. To achieve CMS certification, the program was required to perform 10 transplants within a specific timeframe and demonstrate successful outcomes. The certification allows UC Health to receive Medicare reimbursement for the procedure.
In addition to heart transplant procedures, the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute offers advanced cardiac care such as Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD) that enable patients who are suffering from heart failure, but are not able to receive a heart transplant, to continue their everyday lives and activities.
“This is the next step in UC Health’s relentless effort to provide the best care for the most complex healthcare needs in the region,” said David Feldman, MD, PhD, director of clinical services at the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute and professor of clinical medicine at UC College of Medicine. “We are committed to leveraging the power of academic medicine to provide the most advanced care and best possible outcomes for our patients.”
The number of heart transplants performed each year has been steadily rising over the past decade, according to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. In 2017, 3,244 heart transplants were performed in the U.S.