Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health, in fall 2020 performed its 1,000th heart transplant. Consistently ranked as a national leader in cardiovascular healthcare, Baylor Dallas is the largest heart transplant program in Texas, having performed more heart transplants than any other program in the state, including many multi-organ transplants, such as heart-kidney and heart-liver. Baylor Dallas also has the shortest wait time from listing to transplant in the state.
While donor organs continue to be scarce, Baylor Dallas has built the largest program in Texas by taking an aggressive approach to accepting donors. Donors today are much less healthy than in previous years, and tend to be older with co-morbidities.
“We’ve become more liberal with donor criteria,” says Shelley Hall, MD, Chief of Transplant Cardiology, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Heart Failure at Baylor University Medical Center. “We are able to successfully use organs that would have been thrown away 10 years ago. We discovered that we were too restrictive and that patients do fine with what we once thought were less-than-optimal organs. We’ve also been aggressive in adopting innovations in the transplant field like the use of hepatitis C positive donors. That has added more donor organs as well. And by not turning down donors, patients don’t wait as long so they are healthier as they undergo transplant.”
Dan M. Meyer, MD, Chief of Heart Transplantation and Advanced Circulatory Support at Baylor University Medical Center, adds, “We have a great group of cardiologists on the Baylor Dallas medical staff who are able to network and form relationships with cardiologists in communities throughout the state. When they learn of the success of our program, they send their patients to Baylor Dallas for evaluation and treatment. It really is a testament to the efforts of our team.”
Since the hospital’s first heart transplant in 1986, the program has grown to include a multidisciplinary team with expertise across advanced heart failure, heart transplantation, mechanical device support and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Baylor Scott & White’s ECMO program is one of the largest in the nation. The heart transplant program performs some of the most complex heart transplant cases, helping patients turned away by other medical centers.
“Our ECMO team is skilled at stabilizing patients to be appropriate candidates for transplantation,” Dr. Meyer says. “It’s a combination of the team Dr. Hall has assembled and the group of intensivists that work with the cardiologists to stabilize patients so they can get listed quickly and appropriately and ultimately transplanted.”
* OPTN, Jan. 1 through Aug. 31,2020