First Heart Transplant at Saint Thomas Health Since Re-Launching the Program

After receiving certification to perform heart transplants from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) in April, Saint Thomas Health, a part of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system,  performed its first heart transplant at Saint Thomas West Hospital in five years.

Ashok N. Babu, MD, renowned cardiothoracic surgeon and surgical director of the heart transplant program, joined Saint Thomas Health earlier this year.  He performed the heart transplant along with a team of medical personnel on Wednesday, May 11th.   The patient, a 42-year-old man from Nashville, is doing well after the transplant.  “I feel we had a lot of good things in play,” said Dr. Babu.  “We had a good recipient, a good donor, a great team.”

In 1985, Saint Thomas became the first hospital in Tennessee, and the 26th in the United States, to establish a heart transplant program.  Saint Thomas Health chose to suspend the long standing program in 2011 after the unexpected loss of key personnel.

As the largest heart failure program in the state, Saint Thomas Health serves more than 5,000 patients each year in its clinics and hospitals.  It currently is following more than 20 heart failure patients monthly who may be candidates for a heart transplant.   “We continually hear from our patients that they would prefer to receive their transplant with Saint Thomas Health because of the history and relationship with us.  The relaunch of our transplant program offers our patients the option of transplant care within our system and also reaffirms our commitment to providing world-class heart care to all of our communities.” said Karen Springer, President & CEO of Saint Thomas Health.

“Ascension is very pleased that we are again providing vitally important heart transplant services for patients throughout Tennessee through Saint Thomas,” said Ziad Haydar, MD, MBA Senior Vice President & Chief Clinical Officer, Ascension Health.   “Our focus is to ensure patients and families have immediate access to comprehensive cardiovascular care, building our capabilities at our sites of care across the country.”