LHSC celebrates 600th heart transplant


For Immediate Release:
February 2, 2012

30 year-old program has completed more heart transplants than any other centre in Canada


(LONDON, Ontario) – Thanks to successful heart transplant surgery performed at London Health Sciences Centre, Desmond Dias has a new lease on life. He also has the honour of making history as his surgery marked the 600th cardiac transplant at LHSC's Multi-Organ Transplant Program. This milestone means the program has performed the most heart transplants of any centre in Canada.

"I am truly overwhelmed and grateful for my new heart. I was a very sick man with limited time to live and the extraordinary health care team at LHSC, as well as the donor's family, have given me great hope for a very happy and healthy future," says Dias. "I cannot wait until summer, to golf with my children and travel with my family!"

Dias' heart transplant surgery was led by a team of LHSC physicians including Drs. Mac Quantz, Bernie Mezon and Stuart Swinamer as well as transplant donation specialists, Jane Drew and Michael Bloch.

"The entire LHSC organization is proud of our transplant program and its continued commitment to advancing the standard of care provided to our patients while remaining a medical leader in our region, across Canada and beyond," says Bonnie Adamson, LHSC President and Chief Executive Officer. "These efforts truly embody LHSC's vision of exceptional experiences, extraordinary people and engaging partnerships."

LHSC's first heart transplant was performed in 1981 under the direction of surgeon Dr. Neil McKenzie and cardiologist Dr. Bill Kostuk. Today, the program continues to be a leader in patient care and innovation.

"As one of the first heart transplant surgeons in Canada, I'm pleased that so many of our patients have done well over the years and have benefitted from the 'gift of life,'" says Dr. McKenzie. "We've accomplished a number of milestones, and look forward to helping our patients in years to come."

One of Dr. McKenzie's earliest heart transplant patients was Ken Gaston, then a 23-year-old student. Today, 29 years later, Gaston continues to thrive and live a full and rewarding life.

"They say the greatest gift you can receive is another day of life. Thanks to the heart donor and their family, to the doctors, nurses and staff at LHSC, I have received more than 10,000 days and I look forward to 10,000 more. For that I thank them, with all of my heart," says Gaston.

About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for 137 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children's Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and two research institutes - Children's Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, a joint research initiative with St. Joseph's Health Care, London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 50 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in Southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital's nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca.

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For media inquiries contact:

Rachelle Wood
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 77642

After-hours assistance: Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communications consultant on-call.

Visit the LHSC Media web site at www.lhsc.on.ca/media

Operating room b-roll and other video clips are available, using password 19, at: https://www.sjhc.london.on.ca/cgi-bin/sftlease?action=verify&leaseid=820f6bcc820c712e5e35ef48273ed3c3



LHSC's Multi-Organ Transplant Program

Heart transplant recipient surgery takes between four to eight hours, but with retrieval time and donor surgery added in, it can take up to 24 hours for the entire process.

The program travels the country from coast to coast to retrieve hearts for transplant; periodically to the United States as well. 'Urgent' patients are a national priority, with the sickest patients transplanted first.

While the surgical techniques are quite similar today to the pioneering years, newer anti-rejection drugs have allowed transplant recipients to thrive and lead active and rewarding lives.

The future of LHSC's heart transplant program includes expanding the use of the Impella cardiac assist device. This life-saving device is used to stabilize patients with heart failure until suitable hearts become available for transplant. Mechanical supports such as Impella are becoming part of the standard of care for any patients who require it.

London Health Sciences Centre's Multi-Organ Transplant program is credited with many firsts, including the first clinical trial on cyclosporine, the world's first successful liver-bowel transplant and the first heart-lung transplant and living donor liver transplants in Canada. Some of our earliest liver and heart patients are the longest surviving recipients in the country, now approaching 30 years of healthy life after transplant. Our longest-surviving kidney recipient is celebrating 36 years without needing dialysis.

Transplant program milestones:

Early 1980s   First patient trial worldwide using cyclosporine
1981               First adult heart transplant in Ontario
1981               Canada's first long-term heart transplant survivor
1983               Canada's first heart-lung transplant
1984               First pediatric heart transplant in Ontario
1987               Multi-Organ Transplant Unit opens
1988               World's first successful liver-bowel transplant
1990               Canada's first cluster transplant (liver-bowel-stomach-pancreas)
1993               Canada's first living donor liver transplant for a child
1997               World's youngest recipient for liver-bowel-stomach-pancreas transplant
2000               Canada's first living donor liver transplant between two adults
2006               Canada's first DCD liver transplant
2008               Canada's first DCD kidney-pancreas transplant
2011               Canada's first split pancreas-kidney transplant
2011               600th heart transplant, more than any other centre in Canada