Vanderbilt University Medical Center performs most heart transplants globally in 2020

Nashville-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center performed 148 heart transplants in 2020, the most of any transplant center in the world, according to a Jan. 12 news release. 

Of the 148 transplants performed, 124 were adult hearts, 23 were pediatric hearts and one was the world's first heart-lung transplant in a COVID-19 patient. 

VUMC's multidisciplinary team and deployment of new technologies are among the key reasons that led to the record number of transplants. In February, for example, Vanderbilt's adult transplant team performed Tennessee's first donation after circulatory death, a transplant method that allows surgeons to revive the donor heart after it has stopped beating. The DCD method expands the donor pool by 30 to 40 percent. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic forced our team to make difficult choices about heart transplantation as a priority," said Ashish Shah, MD, professor and chair of adult cardiac surgery at VUMC. "With each challenge, this team, along with senior leadership, found innovative solutions to allow for safer transplantation. While the overall volume of cases is gratifying, the heroic efforts to save lives and protect our clinical teams is the real achievement."

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