Heart Transplant

The Heart Transplantation Program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center is one of the largest and most experienced heart transplant programs in the United States. Since inception in 1971, our program has performed nearly 2,500 heart transplants and counting. Currently we average 75 adult and pediatric heart transplants each year, with survival rates consistently meeting or exceeding national averages. Some of our long-term survivors were transplanted more than 30 years ago, before the advent of many of the now commonly used immunosuppressive therapies and other screeening strategies that have vastly improved our patients’ quality and quantity of life.

A Team of Specialists for Every Stage of Care

If you are a patient being evaluated or listed for transplant at our center, your heart transplant team includes a group of experts who will educate you about the entire process, and optimize your overall health while you are waiting (which may include the need to stay in the hospital or undergo heart pump surgery as a bridge to transplant). You and your family will receive guidance and support while you wait, throughout the recovery period and for all the years to come. Our goal for you is to achieve long-term survival with the highest quality of life possible. Your team includes transplant surgeons and cardiologists, critical care specialists, nurses and nurse practitioners, pharmacists, psychiatrists, nutritionists, physical therapists, and social workers. Your team customizes a plan of care to make this process understandable and manageable for you and your family.

Advancing Heart Failure and Transplantation Success

Our medical and surgical teams that comprise the Heart Transplant Program have been contributing to the advancement of heart failure care and transplant for decades. Some of these achievements include:

  • The first successful pediatric heart transplant in 1984.
  • The primary investigators for the first clinical trial to demonstrate the benefit of ventricular assist device technology for patients with end-stage heart failure (the REMATCH Trial).
  • One of the first heart transplant programs to offer an alternative list for older patients or those with multiple relative contraindications, to receive an organ that might not otherwise be used, and to demonstrate excellent outcomes with this strategy.
  • Leaders in the field of immunosuppression and methods to prevent or treat organ rejection.
  • Leaders in the field for training one of the largest cohort of transplant physicians and surgeons in the United States.
  • Leaders in the field of LVAD technology as bridge to transplant, including the largest center for enrollment of the Heartmate III trial.
  • Major contributors to research on organ scarcity, socioeconomic disparity in transplant, and key policy changes to improve the equitable distribution of heart transplantation across the county.
  • Leaders in multi-center and single-center clinical trials and basic science to improve the care and longevity of patients with end-stage heart failure.
  • Dedicated center for research and clinical care in reversing the heart failure phenotype, with recovery and explantation of LVAD therapy on a case-by-case basis.

Leaders in the Use of Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) as Bridge-to-Transplant

Left ventricular assist devices (VADs) are implantable devices that provide mechanical support to patients whose hearts are too weak to pump blood effectively. A VAD can help you stabilize or improve if you're waiting for a heart transplant, enabling you to live a productive life at home while waiting for a heart donor. For more than 25 years, NewYork-Presbyterian has been a pioneer in the field of mechanical support for people with advanced heart failure.

Our surgeons have played an integral role in the development of many groundbreaking devices and perform one to two VAD implantations each week—one of the largest volumes nationwide—with survival rates that exceed the national average. To overcome long waiting lists for donor organs and other limitations, we have spearheaded an international effort to develop VADs that provide mechanical support for failing hearts. Learn more about our LVAD program.

Some people with end-stage heart failure can have extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)—a way to artificially oxygenate the blood—at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia while waiting for a heart transplant. Our ECMO Program has been designated a Platinum Level Center of Excellence for the Excellence in Life Support Award from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization, an international nonprofit consortium dedicated to the development of novel therapies for people with severe heart failure who require mechanical support. While transplant from ECMO should be considered a rare event, our ECMO team is skilled to manage some of the most challenging cases under extreme circumstances.

Experience with Complex Cases

We consistently treat patients with serious, high-risk conditions, such as cardiac amyloidosis, diabetes-related end-stage organ damage, and HIV. While caring for these high-risk individuals, we are still able to achieve survival rates meeting or exceeding the national average. Patients with complex medical conditions or with multiple relative contraindications for transplant may be best served with LVAD therapy as “Destination Therapy”. In some circumstances a patient’s condition improves on LVAD therapy such that a high risk transplant might be considered reasonable and ethically appropriate.

Two Renowned Centers for Heart Care

While the transplant surgery and long-term follow up is solely at the Columbia Irving Medical Center in Washington Heights, comprehensive outpatient heart failure care, including evaluation for heart transplantation candidacy, may be performed at either the Columbia or Weill Cornell campus. At Columbia, the Center for Advanced Cardiac Care is our comprehensive heart failure center and the gateway to heart transplant evaluation. At Weill Cornell on the upper east side of Manhattan, the Perkin Center for Heart Failure and the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute also provides comprehensive heart failure management as well as transplant evaluation. For patients who are hospitalized and quite ill, who need urgent transplant evaluation, the evaluation will be performed at Columbia, as urgent transplant surgery may be required.

Contact

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

Heart Failure and Transplantation Program
Phone: 212-305-7600