Heart, lung transplant programs see record 2010

By LaKisha Ladson / Feb. 1-11, 2011

UT Southwestern’s Heart and Lung Transplant Programs performed at a record pace in 2010, with surgeons completing more than 20 heart and 20 lung transplants.

Dr. John Warner, assistant vice president for University Hospitals planning, said the increase is a result of several factors, including the leadership of program directors Drs. Mark Drazner and Fernando Torres, and a conscious effort to increase volume by recruiting top personnel.

“It takes about three years to see the payoff of the commitments we’ve made to adding talented new members to our transplant teams,” said Dr. Warner, who also is medical director of the Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Heart, Lung and Vascular Comprehensive Center and director of the Doris and Harry W. Bass Jr. Clinical Center for Heart, Lung and Vascular Disease.

From left: Drs. Mark Drazner, John Warner

Dr. Drazner, medical director of the Heart Failure, Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs) and Cardiac Transplant Program since 2006, and Dr. Torres, head of the Lung Transplant and Pulmonary Hypertension Programs and a faculty member since 2007, have assembled a dedicated team of transplant physicians, health professionals and staff.

The clinical initiative, Dr. Drazner said, also has made it easier for cardiologists to refer patients to
UT Southwestern and has streamlined processes so that patients are evaluated efficiently evaluated and moved toward transplant.

“The advanced heart-failure program at
UT Southwestern is active, growing, has outcomes that rank among the best in the country and is a resource for the community,” the professor of internal medicine said. “We have this excellent program, and now the word is getting out about it.”

Drs. Warner and Drazner said an increase in the number of LVAD implantations also raises the number of heart transplants. LVADs can keep a patient alive longer, which increases the chances that a suitable heart can be found.

Dr. Torres, associate professor of internal medicine, said the groups have upgraded infrastructure and instituted new educational programs for hospital personnel to better care for and manage lung transplant patients.

“The unprecedented support from the cardiovascular and thoracic surgery program and commitment to its flagship lung transplant program cannot be underestimated,” he said. “Now, the time from wait list to transplant is improving significantly. The North Texas community is benefiting from these changes.”

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The program will continue to grow and improve under the leadership of Dr. Michael Jessen, who recently was appointed chairman of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.

Dr. Jessen said the program has on some occasions led the nation in heart and lung transplant outcomes. “According to nationally published information on outcomes in heart and lung transplantation, both of our programs have been extremely successful when compared to others in the region and in the country,” he said. “We expect that excellence to continue.”

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Dr. Drazner holds the James M. Wooten Chair in Cardiology.

Dr. Jessen holds the Robert Tucker Hayes Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Frank M. Ryburn Jr. Distinguished Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery and Transplantation.

Dr. Warner holds the Audre and Bernard Rapoport Chair in Cardiovascular Research and the Jim and Norma Smith Distinguished Chair for Interventional Cardiology.