Heart Transplant Program at UC San Diego Recognized for 1-year Survival Rate of 98.7%, Best in US

Joana Carvalho, PhD avatar

by Joana Carvalho, PhD |

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The heart transplant program at the University of California San Diego Health has achieved the best one-year patient survival rate in the U.S., with surgeons working at the Cardiovascular Institute performing more than 50 heart transplants each year, data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) show.

“At one year, 98.7 percent of our patients are alive and enjoying excellent health with their new hearts,” Victor Pretorius, surgical director of cardiac transplant and mechanical circulatory support at UC San Diego Health, said in a news release.

“This superb outcome is clear evidence that the Cardiovascular Institute offers a top multidisciplinary team of experts who save lives, safely and reliably, through transplantation,” Pretorius added.

The Cardiovascular Institute also specializes in treating patients with complex illnesses, such as chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH), congenital heart disease, cardiogenic shock, and people with heart devices who need to undergo repeated surgeries.

SRTR data indicates that more than 67% of institute patients undergo a heart transplant within three years, much faster than the national average waiting period.

“UC San Diego performs exceptionally high across all measurements including better waitlist survival, less time waiting for transplantation, and the impressive one-year survival rates,” said Eric Adler, a cardiologist and director of cardiac transplant and mechanical circulatory support.

Pretorius, who has performed more than 250 heart transplants himself, attributed the success of the heart transplant program to a team of highly skilled and dedicated health professionals, combined with strong teamwork and communication.

“We have an incredible team who guides our patients and families through their entire transplant experience. Every patient has a personal team of surgeons, cardiologists, nurses, physician assistants, infectious disease experts, social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, transplant coordinators, quality specialists, financial coordinators, and support staff,” Pretorius said.

The heart transplant program currently running at the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, which is part of the Cardiovascular Institute, is the largest in San Diego, and the third largest in the state of California. Recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked the cardiology and heart surgery services at UC San Diego Health as one of the best in the U.S.

SRTR, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, is a source of information on all types of organ transplants performed in the U.S. SRTR data is largely gathered by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) directly from transplant programs, organ procurement organizations, and specialized laboratories. The latest data covers roughly three years, from January 2016 to December 2018.