The first human heart transplant was performed in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa. Just three years later, Dr. John Ochsner, Sr. performed the first heart transplant in the Gulf South on January 9, 1970.

Nearly 50 years after performing the first heart transplant in the Gulf South, Ochsner Health System has successfully completed its 1,000th heart transplant. With the completion of the 1,000th heart transplant, Ochsner joins the ranks of 13 other prestigious health care systems across the United States to have reached this milestone – Cleveland Clinic, Duke University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania, to name a few.

"Reaching this milestone is a testament to the legacy of the late Dr. John L. Ochsner, Sr. who pioneered heart valve and coronary bypass surgery. We are so proud of our team's relentless spirit and dedication to seeking innovative solutions for patients and improving their quality of life – not just today, but for years to come," said Hector O. Ventura, MD, FACC, FACP, Section Head, Cardiomyopathy & Heart Transplantation, John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute (JOHVI).

Led by Aditya Bansal, MD, Ochsner Surgical Director of Heart Transplant, Mechanical Circulatory Support and ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) and Hamang Patel, MD, Ochsner Medical Director of Heart Transplant, the case took more than 10 hours to perform. Strong coordination of care before, during and after surgery included some of Ochsner’s most highly skilled professionals in cardiology, heart failure, transplant, surgery, perfusion, operating room, intensive care and nursing from JOHVI and the Ochsner Multi Organ Transplant Institute.

History

The first human heart transplant was performed in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa. Just three years later, Dr. John Ochsner, Sr. performed the first heart transplant in the Gulf South on January 9, 1970. By the late 1970s, advances in tissue typing along with the discovery of the immunosuppressant drug, cyclosporin, contributed to reduced organ rejection and longer life expectancies for transplant patients. Fast forward to today and heart transplants are now the third most common organ transplantation in the United States, following livers and kidneys.

According to Donate Life America and the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, more than 114,000 men, women and children are currently waiting for lifesaving organ transplants and in Louisiana, more than 2,000 people are on the waiting list. The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network reports there are more than 3,700 individuals in the United States waiting for a heart transplant and of that number more than 50 individuals are waiting in Louisiana.

"Receiving a heart transplant is a rare and lifesaving gift. It's humbling to think of how many lives our heart transplant program has impacted over the last fifty years. We are incredibly thankful to all the donors and their families who have contributed to making this possible," said Patrick E. Parrino, MD, FACS, Chief, Section of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Ochsner Health System.

Accolades

This surgery is the latest accomplishment for JOHVI, which has been a regional and national leader in cardiology and cardiac surgery for decades. JOHVI performed its 500th LVAD (left ventricular assist device) in 2017 and last year Dr. Bansal collaborated with a surgical team in Germany in preparation for a groundbreaking double ventricular assist device (BIVAD) implantation.

The JOHVI team of more than 50 cardiologists and surgeons work closely with each patient to develop a customized healthcare plan that is both targeted and effective. JOHVI also participates in more than 100 clinical trials for the goal of advancing knowledge of the mechanisms, treatments and diagnoses of cardiovascular disease.

Ochsner offers the only pediatric heart transplant program in the state of Louisiana and its Pediatric and Adult Congenital Cardiac Surgery Program's 2018 surgical outcomes greatly exceeded national averages. Ochsner achieved 100 percent survival in neonatal and child heart surgeries and in the Norwood Procedure, used to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

For the third year in a row, Ochsner Hospital for Children has been named among the top 50 children's hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in hospital rankings and consumer advice. Ochsner Hospital for Children was recognized in two specialties, cardiology and heart surgery and gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery.

Since its inception in 1984, the Ochsner Multi-Organ Transplant Institute team of renowned physicians, surgeons, transplant nurses and support specialists have successfully performed more than 7,000 lifesaving liver, kidney, pancreas, heart and lung transplants in both adult and pediatric patients, and through its living donor program for living liver and living kidney transplants.

For more information or to make an appointment with JOHVI's Heart Failure team, visit www.ochsner.org/heartfailure. For more information about Ochsner's pediatric cardiology program, visit https://www.ochsner.org/services/pediatric-cardiology. For more information on registering to become an organ donor, visit Ochsner.org/save9.

Note: For the privacy and protection of those involved, no information will be released about the patient or the donor at this time.

Contributed by Ochsner