OHSU refers 8 heart-transplant candidates to UW Medicine

Additional transfers may emerge; patients from suspended program will retain their accumulated waiting-list time.

As of Aug. 31, 2018, UW Medicine’s heart transplant team had received eight patient referrals from Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) after the suspension of its heart-transplant program. 

“Our primary commitment is to patients. A state line doesn’t mean we’re any less committed to people who live in Oregon than who live in Washington,” said Dr. Daniel Fishbein, medical director for heart transplant and a professor of medicine (cardiology) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “We are the closest transplant program to Oregon and we feel a great commitment to patients with advanced heart disease in the entire region."

Access downloadable soundbites of Dr. Daniel Fishbein and b-roll of a UW Medicine heart-transplant.

At any time, UW Medicine’s program has about 40 patients awaiting donor hearts.  Patients come from across the Pacific Northwest, as UW Medicine's coverage area for transplants spans 800,000 square miles, including Alaska.  

In 2017, UW Medicine surgeons performed 75 heart transplants – the third-highest volume among such programs nationally, behind Cedars-Sinai and Vanderbilt University medical centers, according to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. This year the team was tracking to exceed that volume before the OHSU patient referrals. 

Additional referrals may emerge from OHSU, Fishbein said.

Each patient case has unique considerations such as where the patient wants to receive care and the relevant coverage policies of private insurers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Patients transferred from other transplant programs generally retain their accumulated wait time, which is one consideration for a patient’s place on the waiting list.  Donor organs are offered to patients based on wait time, blood type, size (height and weight), medical acuity and other factors for matching the organ to the potential recipient.

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