Heart transplant recipients celebrate their 'second chance' at reunion

Heart transplant recipients celebrate their 'second chance' at reunion

August 19, 2008

Patients who have received heart transplants at the University of Chicago Medical Center will come together Saturday, August 23, to celebrate their successful journeys. The event at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 Cannon Dr., Chicago, is coordinated by the Center for Heart Failure Management to help patients network with peers who have also received a new heart and raise awareness about organ donation.

Heart transplant recipients ranging in ages from 1 to 67 will attend the family education day. Patients--some of whom underwent heart transplants as far back as 10 years ago--will also provide encouragement and guidance to those who are waiting for transplants.

Speaker for the event will be Allen Anderson, MD, medical director for the Medical Center's cardiac transplant service, and director for the Center for Heart Failure Management.

After being turned down by six other hospitals, Kenneth Woodka received a heart transplant at the Medical Center. "Since I've had the heart transplant, I feel so much better, and it has allowed me to go boating and golf and walk. The better I feel, the more I want to do things and it's fantastic to be able to go out and enjoy life."

The Medical Center's heart transplant program is one of the largest in the Midwest and has been able to maintain a remarkably short average waiting time for transplants. Highly skilled clinical teams achieve some of the nation's best results for heart transplant recipients and care for a large number of patients who are considered high-risk, including patients who require a second transplant.

Many patients who receive new hearts also suffer from multiple organ failure and receive transplantation for other organs. The Medical Center has one of the largest programs in the nation for patients in need of multiple organ transplants.

Members of the media wishing to attend the heart transplant education reunion should contact Martha O'Connell, UCMC Media Relations, (773) 834-8089.