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UW Medicine heart-transplant outcomes are among best in U.S.

Program at UW Medical Center is one of 8 nationally to achieve highest rating for quality of patient care


Surgeons perform a heart transplant at UW Medical Center in Seattle. The program draws patients from across the Pacific Northwest.

Clare McLean


People who undergo a heart transplant at UW Medical Center in Seattle have the best likelihood in the nation of a favorable outcome.


So says a report published last week by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR), which identified UW Medicine’s heart-transplant program as one of eight in the United States to achieve a score of 5, the highest possible, denoting “better than expected” patient outcomes.


Of those elite eight facilities, UW Medical Center also had the highest volume of heart transplants, 48, during the report span, July 1, 2015, to June 31, 2016. 



“This reflects a big team whose individuals are functioning at a very high level in every area: patient evaluation, making sure our wait list is properly managed, the pre-op process, the operation, and all the post-op care,” said Dr. Nahush Mokadam, a UW Medicine cardiothoracic surgeon who co-directs heart transplantation at the hospital. “It reinforces that we are a world-class transplant program.”


Calendar year 2016, in which 58 adults received donor hearts at UW Medical Center, was the third successive year of patient volumes hitting new high marks, Mokadam said, explaining, “We have more surgeons and cardiologists, more coordinators and nurses than we did three years ago.”


The SRTR generates transplant-center reports twice a year, but this report was the first to be based on a new, five-tier assessment of outcome quality. The numeric rating not only represents “how often patients are alive with a functioning transplanted organ one year after transplant,” but also accounts for severity of patients’ conditions and the donor organs. 


The outcome-assessment ratings among 123 U.S. centers evaluated for heart transplant:


  • 5 (“better than expected”) – 8 hospitals
  • 4 (“somewhat better than expected) – 47 hospitals
  • 3 (“good, as expected”) – 44 hospitals
  • 2 (“somewhat worse than expected”) – 16 hospitals
  • 1 (“worse than expected”) – 8 hospitals


UW Medical Center's transplant patients live mainly in Washington but the program also draws from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and California. Mokadam credited LifeCenter Northwest, the main organ-procurement agency in the Pacific Northwest, for its partnership. The agency acts as liaison between hospitals in which a donor organ becomes available and those in which patients need a transplant.


“UWMC’s cardiac-transplant leaders are intently focused on continuous improvement,” said Kevin O’Connor, who directs LifeCenter Northwest. “We regularly review granular data to try to find new ways to transplant more patients and improve outcomes. It’s an honor to partner with such a dedicated and passionate team in this lifesaving work.”


UW Medical Center’s increased heart-transplant volume mirrors a larger trend: 3,191 such procedures were performed nationally in 2016, up 3 percent from 2,804 in 2015, according to the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.


Despite the modest increase in volumes, the figure as a percentage of all people awaiting donor hearts is “unfortunately pretty flat,” Mokadam said. At any time, 40 to 50 UW Medicine patients are on the waiting list for a donor heart, he said.


See the annual U.S. report on heart-transplant trends (PDF).



Dr. Nahush Mokadam
is surgical director of
heart transplantation
at UW Medical Center.


About UW Medicine

UW Medicine is one of the top-rated academic medical systems in the world. With a mission to improve the health of the public, UW Medicine educates the next generation of physicians and scientists, leads one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive medical research programs, and provides outstanding care to patients from across the globe. UW Medicine’s four hospitals—Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center and Valley Medical Center—admit more than 63,000 patients each year. A network of hospital-based and outpatient clinics, including 12 UW Neighborhood Clinics, sees more than 1.3 million patients each year.

The UW School of Medicine, part of the UW Medicine system, leads the internationally recognized, community-based WWAMI Program, serving the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. The UW School of Medicine has been ranked No. 1 in the nation in primary-care training for more than 20 years by U.S. News & World Report. It is also second in the nation in federal research grants and contracts with $727.5 million in total revenue (fiscal year 2015) according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

UW Medicine has 26,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $5 billion. Also part of the UW Medicine system are Airlift Northwest and the UW Physicians practice group, the largest physician practice plan in the region. UW Medicine shares in the ownership and governance of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s, and also shares in ownership of Children’s University Medical Group with Seattle Children’s.

For more information, visit uwmedicine.org.


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