Heart Transplant Patient Celebrates 25 Years with Donor Heart

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 23, 2014

Heart transplant recipient Marie Larner (seated in front) and her family.

Contributor: Michael Givertz, MD, is Medical Director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

Eighty-one year-old Marie Larner, a patient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says she has a lot to be thankful for.

Twenty-five years ago, the Swansea, MA resident became the recipient of a healthy new heart. Her own heart had enlarged to three times its size due to an infection, causing heart failure. She remembers being at her local hospital when she first heard there was a donor. “When they told me, I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “Everybody was so excited, including my doctors. It came so fast, which was fortunate for me, because I don’t think I had much longer to go.”

Marie is one of hundreds of patients who have received a second chance at life due to the efforts of BWH’s Heart Transplant Program, which is celebrating its 32nd year. In 1984, a BWH cardiac surgery team  Dustin, never link to anything other than one of the BWH online profiles; Dr. Cohn no longer in the directory because he passed away last year. performed New England’s first heart transplant. Today, the team-based program consists of cardiac surgeons, cardiologists, and nurse practitioners. The BWH Heart Transplant team has performed over 600 heart transplants, the most of any New England hospital. It remains one of the busiest cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support programs in the region.

Read More »

Options for Patients with Advanced Heart Disease

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 16, 2012

The multidisciplinary Advanced Heart Disease team meets weekly to thoroughly evaluate treatment options for every patient.

Many people with heart disease can successfully manage their condition with medications and lifestyle adjustments. But, for a relative few with very advanced heart disease, their only option is a heart transplant.

Because donor hearts are scarce, only about two thousand heart transplants are performed in the United States each year, leaving thousands of people across the nation on a wait list for a heart transplant. Additionally, many people with advanced heart disease are considered ineligible for heart transplant due to older age or other medical conditions.

Today, advanced heart disease specialists are using newer devices, like left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), as a temporary or long-term alternative to heart transplantation.  These devices are accessible at major medical centers and often provide a viable therapy option for patients ineligible for heart transplant.

For patients with biventricular heart failure (affecting both sides of the heart), one of the newest options – a total artificial heart – can support the patient until a donor heart can be found.  Earlier this year, a team of cardiovascular specialists at BWH, led by Dr. Gregory Couper, performed the first total artificial heart implant in New England.

“People who receive these devices earlier are stronger going into the procedure and have fewer complications after they receive the device,” explains Dr. Mandeep Mehra, Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Heart Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). “We also are finding that their outcomes more closely match those seen among people who have undergone heart transplants.”

“There is a lot we can do, but it’s important that people with advanced heart disease receive specialized evaluation and care as soon as possible, when the most options are available for them,” says Dr. Michael Givertz, Medical Director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program.

Read More »