Former Pittsburgh Pirates Pitcher and Baseball Analyst Kent Tekulve Undergoes Successful Heart Transplant at Allegheny General Hospital

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Former Major League Baseball relief pitcher Kent Tekulve is recovering well today after undergoing successful heart transplantation surgery at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) on Friday, September 5.

Allegheny General Hospital

“Mr. Tekulve continues to do extremely well following his transplant and we look forward to him resuming normal daily activities very soon,” said Dr. Stephen Bailey.

Former Major League Baseball relief pitcher Kent Tekulve is recovering well today after undergoing successful heart transplantation surgery at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) on Friday, September 5.

Mr. Tekulve, who spent most of his 16-year baseball career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and now covers the team as a commentator for Root Sports Pittsburgh, was discharged home on Friday, September 12, according to his transplant surgeon, Stephen Bailey, MD, surgical director of AGH’s heart transplant program.

“Mr. Tekulve continues to do extremely well following his transplant and we look forward to him resuming normal daily activities very soon,” said Dr. Bailey.

Tekulve signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1969 and remained with that organization for 11 years. He saved three games in the 1979 World Series including the winner, as the Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles. He was selected an All-Star in 1980.

He now appears as an analyst after each Pittsburgh Pirates game on Root Sports Pittsburgh.

“I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has been so supportive over the past six months, including my family and friends, all of the wonderful people in the Pirates organization and at Root Sports, and all of the outstanding healthcare professionals at AGH who have taken such great care of me. Most importantly, however, I would like to extend my eternal gratitude for the gift of life that I received through organ donation,” said Mr. Tekulve.

While he awaited a new heart, Mr. Tekulve used a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a mechanical pump that is surgically implanted to assist a weakened heart muscle that can no longer supply oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. He received his LVAD emergently on Christmas Eve in 2013 after becoming critically ill with severe heart failure from blocked coronary arteries.

“Mr. Tekulve is a perfect example of the life-saving potential of mechanical heart assistance in the setting of severe heart failure,” said Raymond Benza, MD, Medical Director of the AGH’s Advanced Heart Failure, Transplantation, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Pulmonary Hypertension Program. “Thanks to this advanced technology, he was not only able to survive until a donor heart became available, but also stabilize his overall health at the time of transplant – which improves his chances of a successful long-term outcome.”

AGH doctors helped pioneer the use of heart assist devices, like the one Mr. Tekulve benefited from, both as a bridge to transplantation and destination therapy.

“We are extremely proud to bring such a distinguished history of clinical innovation and excellence in cardiovascular care to patients like Mr. Tekulve who require a highly sophisticated multi-disciplinary team based approach,” said Srinivas Murali, MD, a heart failure specialist and Director of Allegheny Health Network’s Cardiovascular Institute. “AGH is among a select group of hospitals around the country with the specialized expertise and capabilities to help treat the most severely ill patients with heart failure.”

Established in 1987, the heart transplantation program at Allegheny General Hospital is among the nation’s best in patient care quality, according to the latest 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.

AGH’s heart transplant program posted the best one month and three year patient survival rates in the western Pennsylvania region according to the latest SRTR report. More than half of the hospital’s heart transplant recipients are treated with mechanical circulatory support devices prior to transplantation.

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Dan Laurent