A record-setting 189 heart transplant recipients helped Duke Health celebrate its 1,000th heart transplant, an impressive milestone that has only been achieved by less than 10 U.S. medical centers. Duke’s gathering of recipients is being called the world’s largest, breaking the previous record of 132 set in Michigan last year.
Joseph Rogers, MD, a Duke heart transplant specialist, says their success can partly be attributed to their aggressive approach for accepting organs, and their expanded criteria for putting people on the transplant waiting list.
For example, organs that may be routinely discarded because of the donor’s age, are carefully considered if tests determine they are otherwise healthy. Likewise, while other centers may rule out recipients once they reach 65, Duke carefully evaluates the health of each potential recipient, and may put him or her on the transplant waiting list if tests determine they are healthy enough to achieve success. The oldest person to receive a heart transplant at Duke was 76.
Duke started performing heart transplants in 1985. Now, 60 to 65 heart transplants are performed each year. The high transplant volume is just one reason why Duke is ranked among the nation’s top five heart programs by U.S. News & World Report this year.
Many of the recipients who gathered to help Duke celebrate have returned to normal lives after their transplant. At least one has become a competitive athlete. All who attended expressed their gratitude to the doctors, nurses and staff who make every heart transplant success possible.
"No matter where, or how many times a heart transplant procedure is performed; every transplant is a truly amazing event," says Chetan Patel, MD, a heart transplant specialist and medical director of the Duke Heart Transplant Program. "We have to remember that a failing human heart has been replaced by a functioning organ over 1,000 times at our institution."
You can learn more about the recipients, and watch highlights of the event here.