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Cedars-Sinai Remains No. 1 in Adult Heart Transplants

As Heart Month Begins, The Smidt Heart Institute Announces it Performed More Adult Heart Transplants in 2019 Than Any Other Medical Center in the Nation

For the 10th consecutive year, the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai ranked first in the country for completing more adult heart transplants than any other U.S. medical center.

“This is a remarkable testament to the selfless generosity of hundreds of patients and their families, transforming personal tragedy into new life for a complete stranger,” said Fardad Esmailian, MD, surgical director of the Heart Transplant Program at Cedars-Sinai. “Every individual story is truly inspirational, particularly today, when Heart Month gets underway.”

Alfredo Castaneda, a 42-year-old husband and father from Chula Vista, was one of the 118 heart transplant patients treated at Cedars-Sinai in 2019.

Born with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart chambers enlarge and lose the ability to contract, Castaneda was then diagnosed with congestive heart failure at age 22. He underwent his first heart transplant at a neighboring medical center in 2005, but three years later was diagnosed with transplant coronary disease.

“I waited 10 years for my second heart transplant,” said Castaneda. “But by then, I was so sick and near death that my heart, lungs, liver and kidney were shutting down. But thanks to the angels at Cedars-Sinai, they were able to stabilize my lungs and kidney.”

After nearly three months in the hospital at Cedars-Sinai, Castaneda received news that a donor became available for his dual heart and liver transplant.

Castaneda’s long journey to receive a heart and liver transplant are not uncommon. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nonprofit organization that compiles the transplant statistics, more than 114,000 people in the U.S. are waiting to receive a lifesaving organ transplant.

“Organ donors spring life from death. It’s truly one of the most selfless and incredible gifts a person can give,” said Jon Kobashigawa, MD, director of the Heart Transplant Program at the Smidt Heart Institute. “Our team has the privilege of regularly experiencing the lifesaving gift of organ transplantation, while also witnessing our patients go on to live remarkable, healthy lives post-transplant.”

Cedars-Sinai remains a leader in the treatment of heart disease, both clinically and through rigorous scientific investigation. This April alone, lead and senior authors from the Smidt Heart Institute will present 36 abstracts at the International Society of Heart & Lung Transplantation 2020 Scientific Sessions.

The abstracts which range in topic from analysis of the new heart allocation policy on post-transplant outcomes to the use of specialized immunosuppression for sensitized patients with mechanical circulatory support devices, represent Cedars-Sinai’s global expertise in advanced heart disease.

“Our team’s exceptional scientific and clinical leadership is expanding the frontiers of heart transplantation,” said Joanna Chikwe, MD, chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Cedars-Sinai. “Every patient at Cedars-Sinai benefits because this level of excellence in heart transplant would be impossible without excellence in every other area of patient care here.”

For Castaneda, Cedars-Sinai being ranked first in the nation further reinforces his decision in choosing the academic medical center for his complex needs.

“When you know what to look for in life, beautiful things seem to find you,” said Castaneda. “My time spent at Cedars-Sinai was the best experience of my life. I focused my perspective on gratitude and on the beautiful things around me, like the lifesaving medical team, extraordinary volunteers and compassionate employees who helped bring me back to life. I’m forever grateful for the care I received.”

Read more from Discoveries: Triumph for Transplants