U of L moves to maintain heart transplants at Jewish Hospital

The heart-transplant program at Jewish Hospital in Louisville may continue after all, now that the University of Louisville plans to take over the facility on Nov. 1.

KentuckyOne Health, which is selling the hospital and other facilities to the university, is asking the national organ-donor network to disregard its July 18 request that the program be put on long-term inactivation, Kentucky One and the university announced Friday. Letting the program go inactive could have required recertification by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which would take more than a year and cost millions of dollars.

The university has collaborated for 35 years on the program, which is linked to its medical school.  “The heart-transplant program is simply too important for our university, our community and the patients who are depending on this life-saving procedure,” U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said in a news release. “We thank KentuckyOne for working with us to maintain the program. We are taking steps to shore up our efforts, and very soon we will have a plan in place to ensure the viability of the program for the future.”
The release noted, “The first heart transplant in Kentucky took place on Aug. 24, 1984, at Jewish Hospital. Last year KentuckyOne and UofL celebrated a major milestone after the 500th heart was transplanted.”  However, the number of transplants at the hospital has declined greatly; KentuckyOne blamed a change in how hearts are allocated by the United Network for Organ Sharing.
Jewish Hospital also performs lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants, “making it one of a select group of hospitals transplanting all five solid organs,” the release said. However, kidney and liver transplants at the hospital have also become less frequent.
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