Beth Israel Lahey Health Launches Heart Transplant Program

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10/06/2023

BOSTON – Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH) is excited to announce it has expanded its cardiovascular services to include heart transplantation, the first new program of its kind launched in New England in decades. Based at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) the program is led by a team of experienced surgeons, advanced heart failure physicians, cardiac anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmacists, and support staff from across the BILH system with tremendous expertise in all aspects of heart transplantation.

As the current leading cardiovascular services provider in eastern Massachusetts, BILH serves more than 5,000 patients each year with advanced heart failure. The heart transplant program team at BIDMC, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, works closely with cardiovascular specialists across the system to evaluate patients who might be a candidate for heart transplant.

“With the addition of heart transplantation, we now offer the full range of surgical therapies for advanced heart failure within the BILH network,” said Kamal Khabbaz, MD, chief of cardiac surgery at BIDMC. “The timing of launching the Heart Transplant Program within the new state-of-the-art Klarman Building could not have been more perfect. This gave the opportunity to specially design the facility with leading-edge technology to best support our experienced surgeons and providers doing life-saving work.”

“Our advanced heart failure program has grown significantly over the last several years," said Robert E. Gerszten, MD, chief of cardiovascular medicine at BIDMC. “This will benefit patients and the communities around us tremendously by providing increased access to heart transplant services. The team has already performed several successful transplants in the first month of the program.”

“Working closely with our advanced heart failure colleagues at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center to serve patients across the system with this new program is a tremendous opportunity,” said A. Reshad Garan, MD, director of advanced heart failure and transplantation at BIDMC.

Having performed more than 300 heart transplants with outstanding results over the last decade, Masashi Kai, MD, was selected as the surgical director of the Heart Transplant Program. Before joining BIDMC, Kai was the surgical director of the Heart Transplant Program at Westchester Medical Center in New York, where his patients received hearts faster and had fewer complications than national averages. Kai completed advanced fellowship training in Cardiothoracic Surgery at NYU Hospitals and Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support at Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital.

“The recruitment of Dr. Kai was a critical component of the program launch,” said Khabbaz. “After an extensive international search, Dr. Kai was selected as program’s surgical director for his wealth of experience, talent, and proven outstanding results in the field.”

“Organ donation and transplantation are critical services for individuals with end-stage heart disease,” said Kai. “We are committed to maximizing advanced procurement technology and transportation while exploring leading-edge approaches to safely increasing donor organ availability.”

The program is the result of many years of steadfast work by numerous individuals, including the BILH Heart Transplant Steering Committee co-chaired by Garan and Khabbaz. Also instrumental in laying the foundation for the program have been Gerszten, Peter Zimetbaum, MD, associate chief of cardiology, Marwa Sabe, MD, MPH, associate director of advanced heart failure, and Pablo Quintero Pinzon, MD, medical director of heart transplant.

“The Beth Israel Lahey Health Heart Transplant program takes an integrated approach to address the complex needs of patients with heart failure and their families,” said Kevin Tabb, MD, president and chief executive officer of BILH. “This program enables timely and equitable access to transplant services. We look forward to its continued growth as expanding cardiovascular services is imperative to support the health of the communities we serve.”

The program has full approval by the United Network for Organ Sharing and is actively evaluating and treating candidates for heart transplants. To learn more, please visit our Heart Transplant Program webpage or call 617-632-8628.

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