In 2017, the UK Transplant Center performed its 400th heart transplant, marking a major milestone for a heart transplant program that has been transforming lives since 1991. Additionally, our physicians performed 43 of the 3,244 heart transplants that occurred in the United States in 2017.
Our highly trained doctors and nurses specialize in the complex medical needs of heart transplant patients, while our social workers, pharmacists, nutritionists and support staff offer personalized plans to help patients and families through the entire transplant process.
UK is the only full-service transplant center serving Central and Eastern Kentucky, although many patients travel from other states to see our experts. Patients are provided with a multidisciplinary approach to evaluation, treatment and management of advanced heart failure. “There’s a lot of heart disease in the area, and we need to make sure that patients are getting good care as close to home as possible,” said Navin Rajagopalan, MD, medical director for heart transplantation.
As an advanced center, UK also performs dual-organ transplants, where a transplant patient receives two organs in a 24-hour window, an advanced approach that requires a high level of technical expertise across multiple body systems. UK’s heart-kidney transplant (HKTx) program serves a critical need, allowing doctors to tackle higher-risk cases where a patient may have kidney dysfunction or disease that must be addressed to promote better outcomes.
“Since 2011, we have had an active program of heart and kidney transplantation, which is very important, because heart failure patients will often have kidney dysfunction as well,” Rajagopalan said. From 2011 to July 2018, UK performed 15 heart-kidney transplants, with four of those happening in 2017.
The expertise of UK’s heart and abdominal surgeons and the strong collaboration between transplant teams have been key to the program. “Our success rate has been fairly remarkable,” Rajagopalan said. “Patients have gotten a good quality of life, they have good heart function, and most have very close to normal kidney function, and they do quite well.”