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Vital Signs


Vital Signs

Fall 2009

Celebrating Important Milestones


Watch a video about intestinal transplantation: 
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In 1984, UCLA was one of a handful of centers in the U.S. that was ready to explore the field of heart transplantation at a time when the technologies and therapies required to support such an innovative program were still being refined.

Twenty-five years later, UCLA is among the leading heart transplant centers in the nation, with more than 1,800 procedures performed and survival rates that exceed those reported by the International Heart Transplant Registry.

“UCLA has saved thousands of lives, improved the control of patients’ immunological responses to transplantation, expanded the criteria for who is eligible to receive transplants and improved our ability to preserve donor hearts prior to transplantation,” says Richard J. Shemin, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery at UCLA.

The transplant program has worked in partnership with the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy/Heart Failure Program. The innovative heart failure disease management program pioneered at UCLA has helped patients with advanced heart failure improve their health status, quality of life and survival, allowing heart transplantation to be reserved for select patients who will derive the greatest benefit, and leading to UCLA’s position as one of the largest heart transplantation centers in the nation.

Noteworthy accomplishments, Dr. Shemin says, include the early pioneering research of Lynne Warner Stevenson, M.D., the original medical director of the UCLA Adult Heart Transplant Program, and the more recent research by the current medical director, Jon Kobashigawa, M.D., who was the first to publish separate studies demonstrating the significant benefits of cholesterol-lowering medications (statins) and a specific antirejection medication on survival rates among transplant recipients.

Transplant Services 100th Intestinal Transplant
Another significant transplantation milestone was reached earlier this year. In June, UCLA performed its 100th intestinal transplant. UCLA’s intestinal transplantation program, under the direction of Douglas Farmer, M.D., was established in 1991, and is one of only five such programs in the country to reach this important target. In addition, UCLA’s intestinal transplant survival rates are equal to or better than any center in the world, Dr. Farmer says.

“Given the complexity of the procedure, intestinal transplantation is not widely performed,” Dr. Farmer explains. “We built intestinal transplantation within our liver transplantation program (which also marked its 25th anniversary this year) because we found that many patients with intestinal failure also had liver failure. When we performed combined liver-intestinal transplants, we got better results,” he says.

“It has not been an easy road,” Dr. Farmer adds. “It has required tremendous work and resources and personnel involved in all aspects of transplantation to nurture the patients and the program through the years.”

Learn more about heart and intestinal transplantation at UCLA:  http://transplants.ucla.edu


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