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WVU Medicine announces plans to offer heart transplants

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine announced September 19th its plans to start West Virginia’s first heart transplant program at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute.

Gov. Jim Justic (fourth from right) joined WVU Medicine officials at a press conference today (Sept. 19) announcing plans to start a heart transplant program at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute. Pictured with Justice are (from left to right) Muhammad Salman, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon; George Sokos, D.O., cardiologist; Michael Shullo, associate vice president of transplant services; Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System; Justice: Vinay Badhwar, M.D., executive chair of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute; Gordon Gee, WVU president and chair of the WVU Health System Board of Directors; and Clay B. Marsh, M.D., vice president and executive dean for WVU Health Sciences.
Gov. Jim Justice (fourth from right) joined WVU Medicine officials at a press conference today (Sept. 19) announcing plans to start a heart transplant program at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute. Pictured with Justice are (from left to right) Muhammad Salman, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon; George Sokos, D.O., cardiologist; Michael Shullo, associate vice president of transplant services; Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System; Justice: Vinay Badhwar, M.D., executive chair of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute; Gordon Gee, WVU president and chair of the WVU Health System Board of Directors; and Clay B. Marsh, M.D., vice president and executive dean for WVU Health Sciences.

“We constructed and equipped our 10-story WVU Heart and Vascular Institute to be the most state-of-the-art facility available, and we recruited nationally and internationally recognized cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiologists, and vascular surgeons in order to provide the most advanced care available,” Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System, said. “As a result, the comprehensive care and innovations of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute rival the most prestigious medical centers in the United States.”

Gordon Gee, WVU president and chair of the WVU Health System Board of Directors, said, “As a land-grant institution, West Virginia University’s purpose is to help people when it matters most. In a state where heart disease is the leading cause of death, that means making state-of-the-art cardiac care available close to home. Offering heart transplantation here is another huge advance toward a healthier West Virginia.”

Currently, there are 22 West Virginia residents on the waiting list for a heart transplant. Those residents generally have to travel to Pittsburgh or Cleveland to receive their transplants.

“We need to end this out-migration of West Virginia residents, and allow West Virginia residents to receive heart transplants in West Virginia,” Gov. Jim Justice, who attended the press conference, said. “This is for the benefit of all West Virginians, and all West Virginians should support this measure. It’s about our people, and our people deserve to have this life-saving care available to them right here at home.”

“Heart transplantation has been performed for the past 50 years. Today, heart transplantation is considered the standard of care for some patients with a failing heart,” Vinay Badhwar, M.D., executive chair of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, said. “For those with end-stage heart failure, we can assist the heart or provide them with a new one. Nearly one year ago, we successfully launched our artificial heart, or left ventricular assist device program, and many patients have received these life-saving devices with excellent outcomes. We embrace the Governor’s vision. The next logical step is the development of a heart transplant program, and many of our recently recruited physicians and surgeons have significant experience in heart transplantation.”

A letter of intent was filed with the West Virginia Health Care Authority on Aug. 10. The 203-page Certificate of Need application was filed on Aug. 20.

For media inquiries: Angela Jones-Knopf, Manager of Media Relations, 304-285-7259
knopfa@wvumedicine.org