UT Southwestern/St. Paul transplant program celebrates milestone with 300 heart, 100 lung transplants

DALLAS – June 16, 2003 – The UT Southwestern/St. Paul Heart and Lung Transplant Program, one of the top 10 programs in the country in patient survival, has reached a major milestone with the completion of 300 heart and 100 lung transplants.

More than 100 heart and/or lung transplant recipients gathered in celebration June 13, at St. Paul University Hospital. Among the transplant recipients present were Andre Robertson, of Dallas, the 300th heart recipient, and Audrey Miller, the program’s first female heart-transplant recipient. Miller, who now lives in Austin, received a new heart on Thanksgiving Day in 1988. Mitzi Janway, of Sulphur Springs, was the 100th lung transplant recipient.

Only 17 of the 254 organ transplant centers nationwide have performed a combination of 300 heart and 100 lung transplants, according to data from 1992 to 2003.

“I think our success is due to our team effort and our ability to respond appropriately and completely to the needs of individuals patients,” said Dr. W. Steves Ring, director of the UT Southwestern/St. Paul Heart and Lung Transplant Program and chairman of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at UT Southwestern. “We have worked extremely hard to build up our program since its inception in 1988.”

According to the most recent data released by United Network of Organ Sharing, the UT Southwestern/St. Paul Heart and Lung Transplant Program has achieved a 91 and 87 percent survival rate for one-and three-year heart transplants, respectively, and 89 and 72 percent for one-and three-year lung transplants, respectively.

Before transplant candidates ever reach the surgical suites, they are enrolled in a comprehensive care program, receiving the attention of doctors such as Dr. Clyde Yancy, medical director of the Heart Transplant Program, and Dr. Randall Rosenblatt, medical director of the Lung Transplant Program.

Providing care for chronically ill cardiac patients can present enormous challenges, but the transplant program uses innovative strategies – from mechanical support systems that assist in the function of the heart prior to transplant to more aggressive immunosuppressive drug therapy after transplant – to provide superior care and improve surgical outcomes.

Transplant physicians recently began conducting novel studies with a state-of-the-art cardiac magnetic resonance imaging system to detect, identify and enhance the diagnosis of rejection and of coronary artery disease in heart-transplant patients.

“We strive to achieve not just reasonable, but superlative results and provide an extraordinary level of care for these patients,” said Dr. Yancy, associate professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern. Dr. Yancy recently was named Physician of the Year by the American Heart Association.

Dr. Rosenblatt, clinical professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, directs the adult cystic fibrosis clinic. The Lung Transplant Program was the first transplant program in Texas to offer bilateral lung transplantation as a treatment option to cystic fibrosis patients.

The heart transplant program began in 1988 under the leadership of Dr. Ring. Before coming to UT Southwestern, Dr. Ring directed the heart transplant program at the University of Minnesota, where he performed more than 100 heart transplants between 1984 and 1987.

Texas historian A.C. Greene was the program’s first heart-transplant recipient, operated on by Dr. Ring in 1988. Mr. Green died of cancer in 2002.

“The fact that we’ve completed so many heart and lung transplants suggests that we are a mature program,” said Dr. Rosenblatt. “We’re continuing to explore avenues to improve both the quality and length of life of those patients with terminal heart and lung diseases.”

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Media Contact: Amy Shields
214-648-3404
or e-mail: amy.shields@utsouthwestern.edu

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