Emory 1st in Georgia to pass heart transplant milestone

Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare has become the first health system in Georgia to perform 1,000 heart transplants. 

Tyrone Baldwin, a 50-year-old heart failure patient, underwent the transplant in May and left Emory University hospital, where he had the procedure, in June. Mr. Baldwin received a left ventricular assist device in 2015 to support his heart as he lost weight. He then underwent gastric sleeve weight loss surgery in 2020 to help lose the rest of the weight needed to be listed for a heart transplant. 

Emory's heart transplant program, which launched in 1985, has focused on making advanced heart care more accessible for minority patients. 

“In recent years, with about two-thirds of Emory’s heart transplant patients being minorities, our program has surpassed other programs of similar size,” said Divya Gupta, MD, associate professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at Emory's medical school. “Our team has worked very hard to diminish many obstacles for our patients to receive and have successful heart transplants."

Just over 72 percent of heart transplant patients at Emory were African Americans from July 2019 to June 2020, according to national transplant registry data cited in a July 16 news release. 

"A minority of African Americans who are eligible receive a heart transplant. We know there are many more out there who could use this life saving procedure," Dr. Gupta said. 

Emory's one-year survival rate for heart transplant patients is about 91 percent, according to the health system. 

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