Newswise — Vanderbilt University Medical Center tied for first place as the busiest heart transplant program by volume in the United States in 2019.

VUMC performed a record 118 heart transplants last year — 96 adult and 22 pediatric patients — topping the previous year’s record of 109. It tied with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for the busiest heart transplant center in the country. The Medical Center was ranked as the No. 2 heart transplant center by volume for the previous three consecutive years.

“For Vanderbilt this has been a remarkable year,” said Ashish Shah, MD, professor of Cardiac Surgery and surgical director of the adult heart transplant program at VUMC. “We performed 118 transplants, which included patients who ranged in age from 2 to 72 and some with formidable surgical challenges. Moreover, the Vanderbilt heart transplant team fully embraced innovative strategies to utilize hearts that just a few years ago were thought to be unusable, and now restore hope.”

The Vanderbilt Transplant Center is part of an elite group of heart transplant programs that have performed more than 1,000 transplants. The center’s adult heart transplant program began in 1985, followed by the opening of the pediatric program in 1987.

“This accomplishment reflects the dedication and hard work of an amazing team — physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and case managers across a spectrum of disciplines, as well as the support of the hospital and the transplant center,” said Kelly Schlendorf, MD, MHS, assistant professor of Medicine and medical director of VUMC’s adult heart transplant program.

The Vanderbilt Transplant Center is the South’s premier transplant center, providing more opportunity for patients to participate in clinical trials that help advance the science of organ transplantation, as well as access to other specialists. Its transplant teams have performed more than 9,500 solid organ transplants since 1962, including all major organs — heart, kidney, lung, liver and pancreas.

“I believe Vanderbilt has the finest, most impactful heart transplant program in the country,” said Seth Karp, MD, H. William Scott Jr. Professor, chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences and director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center. “Its success is a direct result of a remarkably talented team.”