The Heart of the Matter: Transplant Program Launched

The Heart of the Matter: Transplant Program Launched

The University of Cincinnati Medical Center is preparing to launch the region’s only heart transplant program. Once in place, UC Health will become a regional destination for men and women with the most serious heart problems.

The first transplant should occur in mid-2016, once the infrastructure is in place and the program is accredited. 

When the program is up and running, patients in need of transplants will no longer need to travel to Columbus, Cleveland or other hospitals in the region to receive this delicate, life-saving surgery. Adults who received heart transplants as children can continue receiving care near their home. 

The University of Cincinnati’s Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute—directed by Richard C. Becker, MD, cardiologist and director of the UC Health Division of Cardiovascular Health and Disease—has recruited two nationally respected heart surgeons to direct the transplant program. 

Louis B. Louis IV, MD, cardiovascular surgeon, and David Feldman, MD, PhD, thoracic surgeon, lead the team, which will include specially trained surgeons, cardiologists, intensive care physicians, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory, physical and occupational therapists, psychiatrists and social workers.

A heart transplant is considered only after all other treatments have been exhausted. Thousands of local patients are treated for heart failure each year. 

"An effective heart transplant program requires an effective heart failure treatment program," says Charles Hattemer, MD, a thoracic surgeon who oversees clinical services in at the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute. "After all, only a tiny fraction of people with heart failure will receive a new heart. A heart transplant is just the most effective way to treat those people who come to us with heart disease."

With heart failure, increases in blood volume and pressure over time, cause the ventricles in the heart to stretch or harden, reducing their capacity to take blood in or pump it out. Causes include coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure) and cigarette smoking.

A patient with the most serious level of heart failure is unable to carry on physical activity without discomfort, according to Dr. Louis. "Shortness of breath, even at rest," he says, is the primary symptom of Class IV heart failure. Those are the people that the heart transplant program will now be able to help.

Approximately 2,300 heart transplants are performed annually in the United States.

"Our faculty and staff understand the level of commitment and expertise required to offer high-level, complex care," Dr. Becker says. "It inspires all of us to know that collectively we can make a difference."

 For more information about the Heart, Lung & Vascular Institute, visit

Related Stories

No stories found.
CDO Magazine