Since 1982, St. Luke's Medical Center has been providing exceptional healthcare to patients referred for heart, lung, kidney and liver transplantation as well as implantation of Left Ventricular Assist Devices. St. Luke's Cooley Transplant Center provides a complete continuum of patient care, from initial counseling and evaluation to surgery, and from rehabilitation to post-transplant medical follow-up, and is continuously recognized for its successful outcomes.
In May of 1968, Dr. Denton A. Cooley and his associates made news around the world by taking the still-beating heart of a 15 year-old girl whose brain has ceased to function and placing it into 47 year-old patient Everett Thomas. Mr. Thomas was the first successful heart transplant recipient in the United States and lived for 204 days after transplant.
On April 4, 1969, Dr. Cooley and his team of cardiovascular surgeons implanted the first total artificial heart device in the world. The device kept Haskell Karp, a 47 year-old patient with severe heart failure, alive for 64 hours until a suitable heart donor was found. Although Mr. Karp eventually died from pneumonia and renal failure, the experience proved the viability of the artificial heart as a bridge to transplantation until a donor heart can be found.
Dr. Cooley spearheaded a successful drive to educate the public on heart transplantation, telling Life magazine: “The heart has been considered the seat of the soul, the source of courage. But I look upon the heart only as a pump, the servant to the brain. Once the brain is gone, the heart becomes unemployed.” Denton A. Cooley M.D. Between 1975 and 1978, Dr. Cooley and Dr. John Norman performed a series of implantations of an abdominal left ventricular assist device. Used to support patients whose hearts had not responded to surgery, the device led to the development of more sophisticated devices.
In November of 1983, transplantation of human hearts resumed with the FDA’s approval of the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine and additional artificial heart advances. Confident medical scientists again directed their energy toward refining “bridging” devices that could prolong patients until heart transplantation can be performed.
Today, St. Luke's Cooley Transplant Center at St. Luke’s Medical Center continues to develop new approaches to treat patients with organ failure and to enhance their quality of life. St. Luke’s Medical Center is continuously ranked as one of America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.
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