A significant milestone was reached at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute as the transplant team performed its 500th heart transplant, 28 years after the first transplant in Ottawa was performed by legendary cardiac surgeon and founder of the Heart Institute, Dr. Wilbert Keon.
The Heart Institute's first transplant was performed in 1984, and up to 20 transplants have been conducted each year since, giving heart recipients a chance at a new life. Transplant patients are seen in the Heart Function Clinic when their hearts are no longer strong enough to pump adequate volumes of blood. The Heart Institute helps set the standard for transplant procedures and protocols across the country, as a leading member of the Canadian Cardiac Transplant Group.
Something extraordinary happened at the Heart Institute today as we gave a second chance at life to our 500th heart transplant patient. I wish to commend the remarkable leadership of Dr. Thierry Mesana, Chief of Cardiac Surgery, and Dr. Haissam Haddad, Medical Director of our transplant program, and their outstanding teams for achieving this important milestone, said Dr. Robert Roberts, President and CEO of the Heart Institute.
A recent study by researchers in the heart transplant program, looking at 25 years of follow-up on 461 Heart Institute transplant patients, revealed that heart transplant surgery is safe and effective. The retrospective study, spanning three decades, found that survival rates are now close to 90 per cent, an improvement of more than 20 per cent over the years since modern heart transplantation became available in 1980.
Heart transplants are amazingly effective therapy, said Dr. Marc Ruel, Surgical Director of the heart transplant program at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. We must remember that half of these patients would otherwise not have lived one year without a transplant.
The University of Ottawa Heart Institute is Canada's largest and foremost cardiovascular health centre and a world leader for research impact. On August 24, 2011, the Province of Ontario announced its commitment to move ahead with a new building extension for the Heart Institute. This new facility will ensure our continued capacity to shape cardiovascular care, research and education for the coming decades.