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OHSU Restarts Heart Transplant Program

<p>Oregon Health and Science University.</p>

Alan Sylvestre


Oregon Health and Science University.

The organization that oversees organ transplants in the United States has approved an application from Oregon Health & Science University to resume heart transplants.

OHSU stopped performing the procedure last year after four cardiologists left abruptly.

A study by heart transplant experts from around the globe, commissioned by OHSU, found that workload, personality clashes, burnout and an overall lack of support from the health system led to the department's implosion.

But now OHSU administrators say they have successfully recruited three cardiologists and will resume heart transplant work. They're from the University of California, San Francisco; Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston; and University of Vermont Medical Center.

“OHSU’s Heart Transplant Program has a long history of serving the state of Oregon, providing more than 700 heart transplant procedures to date," said OHSU President Danny Jacobs in a written statement. "With the successful recruitment of cardiologists from some of the preeminent programs in the country, we are pleased to resume the full spectrum of care for Oregonians with advanced heart failure, in need of heart transplantation."

The university faced a tough deadline: If it didn’t reopen the unit by September, the teaching hospital would need to be re-certified by the United Network for Organ Sharing — meaning the first 10 transplants would be performed at university expense.

“We are thrilled with our progress toward building the right team and receiving the appropriate approvals to provide heart transplants, in addition to mechanical circulatory support devices and many other options for advanced heart failure,” said John Hunter, OHSU chief executive officer, in a written statement.

Earlier this year, a second hospital system in Oregon, Providence Health & Services, received a $75 million dollar gift from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny Knight, to start a new heart program.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.