THE UCLA heart and intestinal transplantation programs marked important milestones in 2009. The heart transplant program celebrated 25 years of extending lives, while the intestinal transplant program performed its 100th procedure.
UCLA is a leading heart transplantation center in the nation, with more than 1,800 heart transplants performed and survival rates that exceed those reported by the International Heart Transplant Registry. The heart transplant program has worked in partnership with the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy/ Heart Failure Program.
“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 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.
The intestinal transplantation program is a more recent addition. In June, the program performed its 100th intestinal transplant. Under the direction of Douglas Farmer, M.D., the program was established in 1991 and is one of only five such programs in the country to reach this important transplantation 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.”