Heart Transplantation

Our Program

Program Highlights

  • Program inception: 1980
  • More than 1,400 adult heart transplants performed
  • Groundbreaking research in both transplantation and surgical treatment of heart failure, including ventricular assist device (VAD) therapy
  • More than 1,000 VADs implanted over the past two decades
  • One of the few programs in the country with heart recipients now nearing or beyond 30 years post-transplant

Heart Transplantation at UPMC

Our program is one of only a few programs in the country with heart recipients now nearing or beyond 30 years post-transplant.  The UPMC Heart Transplant Program works closely with the UPMC Advanced Heart Failure Center to provide exceptional care for patients with advanced and complex heart disease.

UPMC's Heart Transplant Program focuses resources on clinical care as well as basic and translational clinical research in both transplantation and surgical treatment of heart failure including ventricular assist device therapy, allowing clinicians to optimize therapy and outcomes for individual patients.

Volumes and Outcomes

At UPMC we’ve performed more than 1,400 adult heart transplants since the early 1980s. As a pioneer in the field of solid-organ transplantation, our program has been consistently challenged with some of the most difficult and complex cases. Still, we maintain outcomes that are on par with national benchmarks.  To view specific information about our outcomes, including one- and three-year survival rates, please visit the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

Research in Heart and Lung Transplantation

UPMC acts as a regional and national resource for new cardiac recovery and replacement technologies. Collaboration with McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine basic scientists and engineers in the fields of molecular cardiology, genetics, and engineering allows UPMC heart failure specialists to develop new technologies and therapies. This partnership gives UPMC clinicians access to the latest in cardiac assist device designs,(also known as ventricular assist devices or VADS), such as the Heartmate III, and its predecessor, the Heartmate II rotary pump, codesigned at the McGowan Institute. Also under study are new LVADs that can be implanted with a minimally invasive approach; in fact, UPMC surgeons were the first in Pennsylvania to use a minimally invasive surgical surgical approach to implant such a device.

Other areas of research in heart transplantation and ventricular assist device therapy include enhancing myocardial recovery while undergoing ventricular assist device therapy, or “bridge to transplant,” in addition to the development and expanded use of polyclonocal and monoclonal antibodies to counteract steroid-resistant rejection.

Artificial Heart Program

The Artificial Heart Program at UPMC is one of the most active of its kind, performing more than 1,000 ventricular assist device (VAD) placements over the past two decades. 

There are two major indications for a VAD; as a bridge-to-transplant, where patients are supported because they are becoming too ill to await a suitable donor organ; and as destination therapy, in which patients who have advanced heart failure, but who are not candidates for transplant, are supported permanently on a VAD. Over the past decade, UPMC specialists have developed strategies for enhancing myocardial recovery while on an assist device, resulting in the largest published series in the nation of bridge-to-recovery patients.