Allegheny General Hospital Heart Transplant Program Has Best Patient Outcomes in Pennsylvania According to National Report

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Just recognized by U.S. News and World Report Magazine as one of the country's preeminent centers for the treatment of heart disease, Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital also boasts the state of Pennsylvania's highest quality heart transplant program, according a new national report of transplant patient outcomes.

“This new report shows that we are not only achieving our mission but setting the standard of care for heart transplantation locally and nationally,” said Dr. Srinivas Murali, Allegheny General Hospital

The heart transplantation program at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) has the highest one-year survival rate of any transplantation program in Pennsylvania, and a success rate that exceeds the national average, according to a new report by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

SRTR is the official national database of organ transplantation statistics and serves as the repository of information used to analyze transplantation trends and patient outcomes in the United States. The latest SRTR report covers transplantation procedures performed at hospitals between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010.

With 31 heart transplants performed in 2010, AGH was the 15th busiest adult heart transplant center in the country last year, from more than 90 active programs. The SRTR report shows the quality of the hospital’s transplant program over the past two and a half years has been equally impressive.

AGH demonstrated a one-year heart transplant survival rate of 96 percent during that period, surpassing each of Pennsylvania’s additional eight adult transplant centers and besting the national average of 89 percent. AGH’s one year survival rate was also ten percentage points higher than the expected rate considering the high acuity – or severity of illness – among its transplant patients.

“Our mission is to provide patients with an unsurpassed level of clinically advanced, highly personalized heart failure and transplantation care that affords them the best chance of getting better and resuming a normal life,” said Srinivas Murali, MD, Medical Director of AGH’s Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute and Director, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at WPAHS. “This new report shows that we are not only achieving our mission but setting the standard of care for heart transplantation locally and nationally.”

“We are focused on growing our transplantation program while emphasizing high quality of care and superior outcomes”, Dr. Murali said.

Led by medical director, Raymond Benza, MD and surgical director Stephen Bailey, MD, AGH’s heart transplantation program is driven by a unique amalgamation of best practices established at some of the nation’s top transplant centers, where many of the transplant team’s members were recruited from.

“We believe the program that we have established is second to none in the nation with regard to its quality of care and the scope of clinical resources it offers to patients. Our protocols are designed to provide even the most critically ill heart failure patients with a fighting chance and we are extremely pleased that the SRTR report reflects our success in that regard,“ said Dr. Benza, a leading heart failure and pulmonary hypertension specialist who serves as Medical Director of AGH’s Advanced Heart Failure, Transplantation, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Pulmonary Hypertension Program.

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and cannot pump blood adequately throughout the body. The disease affects roughly six million Americans, kills more than 300,000 annually and is the leading reason for hospitalization among people over the age of 65.

Approximately 2,300 heart transplants are performed each year in the United States to treat patients with end-stage disease.

Dr. Benza said one year survival is a crucial benchmark for heart transplant programs in that the first year post-transplant is the most challenging period for patients and those who make it through the first year with few complications have significantly improved long-term outcomes.

“Heart failure is an extremely complicated disease that requires sophisticated, multi-disciplinary diagnostic and treatment capabilities to be managed effectively. At AGH, we have an extraordinary group of talented and dedicated healthcare professionals from a wide array of cardiovascular specialties who collaborate closely to provide end stage heart disease patients with a complete spectrum of advanced medical and surgical options,” Dr. Benza said.

AGH’s re-emergence as a prominent heart transplant center has also been fueled by the hospital’s nationally recognized leadership in the use of advanced technology - such as left ventricular support devices (LVADs) - to keep patients alive and healthy while waiting for a donor heart. In 2010, the hospital implanted 28 LVADs both as a “bridge to transplantation” and as permanent – or “destination” - therapy.

“Our team approach allows us to offer the best solution to each patient with heart failure, whether it is advanced medical therapy, heart transplantation, mechanical circulatory support or complex coronary or valve surgery,” said Dr. Bailey, Director of the hospital’s Division of Cardiac Surgery and Surgical Director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support program.

In addition to Drs. Murali, Benza and Bailey, other key physicians leading AGH’s heart transplant program include cardiologist George Sokos, DO, transplant surgeon Robert Moraca, MD, and George Magovern, MD, chair of AGH’s Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.    Because of growing volumes, the transplant program has recruited two additional cardiologists who will be starting on August 1, 2011.

The team is rounded out by an exceptionally talented and dedicated team of transplant coordinators, nurses and ancillary staff, Dr. Magovern said.

“The tremendous growth and success of our heart transplant program over the past five years exemplifies our organization’s commitment to developing high quality, quaternary services and recruiting the highest caliber of medical professionals to lead them. Our vision is for AGH to earn and maintain a formidable share of the heart transplant market in the western Pennsylvania region and we have made fast progress towards achieving that,” Dr. Magovern said.


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