Jewish Hospital transplant program at risk with 1 heart transplant performed in 6 months

Louisville, Ky.-based Jewish Hospital's transplant program is at risk of closing after performing just one heart transplant in the first six months of this year, according to Insider Louisville.

The low number violates federal laws set by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which deems heart transplant programs to be functionally inactive if they perform less than one transplant every three months. CMS also won't certify programs that perform less than 10 transplants per year, which means it could stop funding the costly procedures. Jewish Hospital and related facilities are already losing over $1 million per week.

If the program closes, transplant surgeons and medical staff in related subspecialties could leave in a mass exodus. The hospital could also lose its designation as a level 1 trauma center and be less competitive for residency spots.

The University of Louisville School of Medicine, which runs the program along with Jewish Hospital, could also see losses in its finances and reputation. The university has said it will continue supporting a transplant program, either at Jewish or another location, but transferring locations would mean spending millions of dollars to regain CMS certification. 

UofL declined to answer Insider Louisville's questions about why heart transplants are declining.

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