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UTAH Cardiac Transplant Program Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Mar 04, 2010 10:49 AM

Salt Lake City—Patients and medical staff from the UTAH Cardiac Transplant Program – one of the nation’s premier collaborative heart transplant programs – are celebrating a quarter century of life-saving care to the community as part of the program’s 25th anniversary this week.  

The unique program is a cooperative effort between four Salt Lake City area hospitals – Intermountain Medical Center, the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center, Primary Children’s Medical Center, and University of Utah Hospital – and has achieved one of the best survival rates in the country. It is frequently cited as a model for other transplant programs.

The UTAH (Utah Affiliated Transplant Hospitals) Cardiac Transplant Program has successfully performed 1,062 heart transplants since its first transplant in 1985 at University Hospital. It is the only heart transplant program in the Intermountain West and is co-directed by cardiologists A.G. Kfoury, M.D., from Intermountain Medical Center, and Josef Stehlik, M.D., from University of Utah Health Care.  

Drs. Kfoury and Stehlik say that the UTAH Cardiac program is a unique model because it utilizes the skill, expertise, and resources of medical teams from all four member hospitals. This cooperation helps contain costs by eliminating replication and enhancing clinical expertise. Every patient awaiting a transplant is reviewed by the UTAH Cardiac team which ensures that donor hearts are matched with the most appropriate recipients.  

“The success of the UTAH Cardiac Program is a direct result of the cooperation that exists between our member hospitals. Our patients get the expertise and experience of medical and surgical teams from four excellent heart centers – something that very few places in the country can offer,” says Kfoury, who serves as the director of the Heart Failure and Prevention Program at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

Events to mark the anniversary include a medical conference on Friday, March 5 featuring presentations on the latest advances in heart transplantation, and a celebratory gala on Saturday, March 6 for patients, family members, and UTAH Cardiac staff.

Four patients will share their story at a news conference on Wednesday, March 4. Those patients include:

•    Michael Cox, a Navy Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who received his heart transplant in July 2007. His care was coordinated through the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center.

•    Allyson Gamble, a 41-year-old mother who was transplanted at Intermountain Medical Center in April 2007. She is married and has an 8-year-old son.

•    Emily Roosevelt, a Park City resident, who received her transplant at University Hospital in June 2008. Roosevelt was born with a congenital heart defect but didn’t suffer serious

complications until she was nearly 40. The mother of two young sons, Roosevelt’s health began quickly deteriorating and she was able to receive a transplant 10 days after being added to the waiting list.

•    Joseph Talbert, a 16 year old who received his transplant at Primary Children’s Medical Center in January 2008. Talbert was born with congenital heart disease, which limited his physical abilities. He’s now back in school and recently completed a 25-mile bike ride.

The program’s first patient, Tony Shepherd, lives in Wyoming with his wife.