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Hartford Hospital Among Best for Heart Transplants

April 24, 2019

Hartford Hospital is the No. 1 adult heart transplant program in Connecticut based on three-year survival rate data from the national Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

Hartford Hospital also ranks second highest in the New England-New York-New Jersey region and 11th highest in the nation out of 107 programs.

“This is really a tribute to the experienced team we have,” said Dr. Jonathan Hammond, surgical director of Hartford Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program. “Our surgeons have been doing this for over 20 years – but it’s not just them. It’s the combined expertise of our superbly trained transplant cardiologists, infectious disease experts, intensive care team, and every single person involved in the day-to-day care of these complex patients.”

SRTR is a national database of organ transplantation statistics used to analyze trends and patient outcomes across the United States.

Doctors at Hartford Hospital have performed more than 420 heart transplants in the last 35 years. According to data from the latest SRTR review, the three-year survival rate for patients transplanted between 2013 and 2015 was 92.31 percent. Nationally, the three-year survival rate for the same time period was 84.63 percent.

In 1984, Hartford Hospital performed the first successful heart transplant in Connecticut. Another little known fact: Hartford Hospital’s first heart transplant patient in 1984 is among the top five heart transplant survivors in the world – dying in 2017, 33 years after his transplant.

Heart transplants are the recommended treatment for people with heart failure caused by coronary heart disease, damaged heart values or muscles, congenital heart defects, and viral infections of the heart.

Survival rates after transplant are based on many factors, and Dr. Hammond says it all starts with good management of a patient before they are transplanted.

“If you can’t manage patients effectively, and they are very sick going into a transplant, the outcomes won’t be as good,” said Dr. Hammond.

Heart failure patients in need of a transplant require specialized medical care and often specialized surgical care such as open heart procedures. Patients also may require mechanical circulatory support devices, which essentially keep the heart pumping as it should. These devices keep them alive and well until they are able to be transplanted.  Moreover, if heart transplant is not an option, mechanical pumps can sometimes be used for long-term care to improve both quality of life and longevity.

“Hartford Hospital’s program offers the latest technology and a full range of these support devices, such as ventricular assist devices (VADS). Our dedicated team of cardiologists is specially trained to help patients have the fewest side effects and complications,” said Dr. Hammond.

Dr. Joseph Radojevic, director for the Center of Advanced Heart Failure and Pulmonary Vascular Disease, adds that this expert management, through Hartford Hospital’s Heart Failure Program, is focused on a conservative and aggressive approach based on each patient’s individual circumstance. “Our multi-disciplinary team focuses on quality management of our patients.”

Balancing immunosuppression therapy and infection risk after transplant is another important factor in survival rates. Dr. Hammond acknowledges that immunosuppression treatment is as much of an art as it is a science.

“Our heart failure specialists follow patients closely after surgery, in partnership with our entire multidisciplinary team in monitoring for rejection and tailoring their immunosuppression therapy to reduce the risk of infection and malignancies, which will assist in the success of our short and long-term outcomes down the line,” added Dr. Andrew Feingold, medical director for Hartford Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program.

“Our ability to care for heart transplant patients has come a long way over the last three decades, and we are both proud and grateful that we can deliver the very best care to our patients,” said Dr. Hammond.

Hartford Hospital is one of 107 adult heart transplant programs in the country, under the leadership of Dr. Joseph Radojevic, director, Center of Advanced Heart Failure and Pulmonary Vascular Disease; Dr. Jonathan Hammond, surgical director, Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Programs; Dr. Andrew Feingold, medical director, Heart Transplant Program; and Dr. Jason Gluck, medical director, Mechanical Circulatory Support Program.

To learn more about Hartford Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program, click here.