December 4, 2015, marked the 30-year anniversary of Oregon’s first heart transplant. Performed at Oregon Health & Science University, the operation was led by Dr. Albert Starr, who 25 years earlier made history by co-inventing the first artificial heart valve.
Starr’s team researched and refined the transplantation procedure before introducing it at OHSU. Today, more than 650 procedures later, OHSU still offers Oregon’s only heart transplantation program.
In a recent look back on that first historic surgery, The Oregonian recently interviewed Don Shirilla of Portland, Ore., the 12th patient to go through the procedure in Oregon and the longest living heart transplant patient in the state to not need a second transplant operation. The piece also features Dr. Starr and Dr. James Mudd, leader of OHSU’s heart failure and transplant program. From The Oregonian article:
Mechanical pumps have helped a bit to bridge the gap [between the need of heart transplants and available donors]. Ventricular assist devices are implanted in failing hearts to pump oxygenated blood throughout the body…OHSU, which performs the only transplants in the state, implants more than 40 pumps a year.
Dr. Starr still plays a key advisory role at OHSU’s Knight Cardiovascular Institute, named in honor of a $125 million gift from Phil and Penny Knight. Under the direction of internationally distinguished cardiovascular imaging expert Sanjiv Kaul, the institute is now undergoing dramatic transformation.
Since Dr. Kaul’s arrival in 2006, OHSU’s cardiovascular faculty has grown from six cardiologists and two surgeons to more than 69 clinicians and scientists. Widely known for developing a sophisticated heart attack diagnostic imaging method involving microbubbles, Dr. Kaul is building the institute’s prowess in research areas such as disease prevention, vascular biology, advanced imaging and a bold new approach to a total artificial heart.
Help us with the next thirty years of innovation in cardiovascular health.