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St. Luke's Medical Center Performs 500th Heart Transplant

Friday, February 07, 2003

MILWAUKEE, Wis, This week, St. Luke’s Medical Center, a nationally recognized pioneer in the area of heart care, marked another milestone by performing its 500th heart transplant. St. Luke’s performed the Midwest’s first heart transplant in 1968, and since then hundreds of people have been given a second chance at life with a new heart.

“It’s a privilege and honor to be connected to this historic transplant program,” says Alfred Tector, M.D., director of the Transplant Program. “What matters most, however, are the lives we touch and the lives we save everyday.”

The St. Luke’s heart transplant program was the first in Wisconsin. It is also one of the busiest and most successful programs in the country. Recent data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients showed that St. Luke’s is 9th in the nation in the of number of adult transplants performed, with 81 transplants done between January 1, 1999 and June 30, 2001. Other centers in the top ten include UCLA Medical Center, The Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Medical Center. In addition, the one-year survival rate for a heart transplant patient at St. Luke’s is 95.06%. That is the highest rate of any of the centers in the top ten.

“We have known for a long time that our transplant program is among the best in the country,” says Dr Tector. “This data confirms it and should underline that St. Luke’s is the place to be when it comes to your heart care.”

“A milestone like this is a tribute to the dedicated doctors, nurses, coordinators and others on our transplant team,” says Mark Ambrosius, president of Aurora Health Care’s Metro Region. “It also underlines St. Luke’s commitment to being a health care leader in the community.”

Since 1968, many things have changed in the area of heart transplantation. Patients have options today that were not even invented at the time the transplant program started. Special machines called ventricular assist devices can today help a failing heart pump more efficiently until a transplant becomes available. In some cases, those devices can even be a permanent option for patients unable to get a transplant. Medication has improved as well. Immunosuppressants, given after a transplant, are more effective today at reducing the body’s potential rejection of a heart.

The patient who received the 500th transplant is a 52-year-old Milwaukee man. He is doing well, and is expected to go home next week.

Since 1968, the St. Luke’s Transplant Program has grown to include lung, liver, kidney, and most recently, pancreas transplants. For more information on the program, call the St. Luke’s Transplant Clinic at 414-649-5410. St. Luke’s Medical Center is a part of Aurora Health Care, a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora has care sites in 75 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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