Newswise — Physicians at Houston Methodist Hospital have now performed more than 1,000 heart transplants since Michael E. DeBakey, M.D. completed the first one at the hospital 50 years ago.

Houston Methodist Hospital has joined an elite group of hospitals in the country that have achieved more than 1,000 heart transplants.

The recipient of this milestone heart was Tyler Wertz, a 23-year-old who was on a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) for the past 5 years. Wertz, and his younger brother, have been on LVADs due to complications from Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that slowly weakens the arms and legs and damages the heart. Tyler’s health began to deteriorate late last year and he was put on the transplant list. 

”This has been a long journey and a long struggle for me and I now feel great,” Wertz said. “I am looking forward to seeing what life is like with this new heart.”

In the past five years, Tyler has gotten engaged and had two children—and now he has his new beginning.

”I really want to become a football coach. I love the game and was never able to play because of my muscular dystrophy,” Wertz said. “I also can’t wait to watch my children grow up and live out their dreams. I am truly blessed.”

In 1968, Houston Methodist Hospital’s first heart transplant was part of the world’s first multi-organ transplant that also included a lung and two kidneys from one donor to four recipients.

“A great amount of work went into performing that first transplant and to see us reach 1,000 heart transplants is an incredible accomplishment for Houston Methodist,” said George P. Noon, M.D., a cardiovascular surgeon with Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center. Noon was part of DeBakey’s team and has been involved in more than 600 of the 1,000 heart transplants. “It’s a great feeling to know that we have been able to save the lives of many people over the past 50 years.”

The 1,000th heart transplant was also the 50th of 2017, a new record for Houston Methodist.

“Consistently performing heart transplants with great results is a testament to the commitment of everyone involved on the team,” said A. Osama Gaber, M.D., director of Houston Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center.

“The evolution and maturation of heart transplantation from the early stages 50 years ago to today when patients have excellent long-term outcomes is nothing short of remarkable,” said Alan B. Lumsden, chief of cardiovascular surgery at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center.