WVU Medicine performs state's first heart transplant

Robert Parsons and Vinay Badhwar, M.D., pose for a photo four hours after Dr. Badhwar transplanted a new heart into Parsons, who was admitted to the hospital in decompensated end-stage heart failure and shock requiring a temporary mechanical assist bump insterted into his left axillary artery preoperatively. (Courtesy: WVU Medicine)
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV)-- West Virginia University Heart and Vascular Institute and the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance performed West Virginia's heart transplant on Saturday on 61-year-old Robert Parsons of Chesapeake, Ohio.

“Today marks a new chapter for transplantation in West Virginia,” Michael Shullo, Pharm.D., associate vice president of transplant services for WVU Medicine and leader of the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance, said. “This is the culmination of a tremendous team effort to support access to organ transplantation for all West Virginians and patients from our surrounding regions.”

According to a press release from WVU Medicine, the operation took a total of six hours and concluded at noon. By 4 p.m., Parsons was stable and taken off the ventilator. He was sitting up and visiting with his siblings.

The transplant team included heart surgeons Vinay Badhwar, M.D.; Muhammad Salman, M.D., and Chris Cook, M.D.; heart failure cardiologists Christopher Bianco, D.O.; George Sokos, D.O., Marco Caccamo, D.O.; anesthesiologists Matthew Ellison, M.D., and John Bozek, M.D.; surgical assistants; transplant coordinators; nurses; pharmacists; social workers; dietitians; and perfusionists, according to the press release.

“On behalf of the tremendous team of your WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, it is an honor and privilege to bring access to this much-needed and precious, life-saving therapy to our patient today,” said Dr. Badhwar, transplant surgeon and executive chair of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and the WVU Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. “We have opened the doorway to a new future for West Virginians, who no longer have to travel out of state for heart transplantation.”

WVU Medicine says the program has several more patients in need currently on a waiting list for heart transplantation.

“This heart transplant was the first ever in West Virginia’s 156-year history, and it marked a pivotal moment for the Institute as it continues to establish itself as one of the premier heart and vascular programs in the United States,” Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System, said. “We are proud of the team of dedicated professionals who made this surgery a success, and we are honored to bring this critical service to the people of West Virginia and all we serve.”