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Format: 04/16/2014
Format: 04/16/2014


AGH Performs First Dual Heart-Kidney Transplant

Monday, September 21st, 2009

A 63 year-old Pittsburgh man is recovering well today after undergoing a combined heart and kidney transplant at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH).  It was the first such multi-organ transplant performed at AGH since its transplantation program was established in 1987.

According to Stephen Bailey, M.D., director of AGH’s Division of Cardiac Surgery, many patients who suffer from long-term heart failure also have significant renal disease. The two problems often co-exist because a weakened heart cannot pump blood sufficiently to the kidneys or because the kidneys have been damaged by other cardiovascular comorbidities such as hypertension or diabetes.

Dysfunctional kidneys can also substantially lessen the chances of a successful heart transplant, Dr. Bailey said, by causing poor hemodymanic regulation and reducing a patient’s capacity to tolerate immunosuppressive medications designed to prevent organ rejection.

“These are extremely complicated cases that require the skills of an experienced and sophisticated team of renal and cardiovascular disease specialists. Severe renal disease has traditionally been a leading contraindication for heart transplant, so patients in this particular condition have faced near insurmountable odds. With the dual heart and kidney transplant approach, we are able to offer more of these patients a reason for hope,” Dr. Bailey said.

Under the direction of Dr. Bailey and Ngoc Thai, M.D., Ph.D., director of Abdominal Transplantation at AGH, the hospital’s first heart-kidney transplant was performed by two teams of surgeons on August 30. The patient’s heart was transplanted first, followed immediately by the kidney.

Dr. Thai said replacing both organs at the same time is a critical factor in providing patients with the best chance of a successful outcome.

“Patients experiencing both heart and kidney failure benefit from receiving a combined heart and kidney transplant. The advantages of transplanting both organs simultaneously from a single donor are well established in the literature. It is similar to the benefits of a combined kidney and pancreas transplant for certain patients,” he said.

Adding the heart-kidney option to AGH’s growing transplantation service is great news for both the hospital and the community, said Raymond Benza, M.D., medical director of the Advanced Heart Failure, Transplantation, Mechanical Support and Pulmonary Hypertension Program at AGH’s Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute.

“This is another exciting milestone for our program and a vital new resource for patients from the tri-state area who have advanced heart failure and renal disease,” he said.

For more than two decades, AGH has been one of the state’s leading centers for organ transplantation. The hospital performed its first heart transplant in 1987 and its first kidney transplant the following year. It is also a center for pancreas, liver and lung transplantation.


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