Hahnemann temporarily suspends heart-transplant program

Posted: June 20, 2013

Hahnemann University Hospital has voluntarily inactivated its heart transplant program because, the hospital said, it lacked backup surgical care.

John Entwistle 3d, who had been surgical director of Hahnemann's heart transplant program, left to became surgical director of rival Thomas Jefferson's University Hospital's heart transplant program late last year.

Hahnemann closed its program June 1, communications coordinator Gianna DeMedio said. Ten patients were on the heart transplant waiting list at that time and were told they could be listed elsewhere without changing their place in line.

Hahnemann did eight heart transplants last year and one in the first three months of this year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. DeMedio said the low volume was not a factor in the decision to inactivate.

The hospital has had only one heart transplant surgeon since May 31. While hospitals are allowed to have just one, DeMedio said, "It is our standard of care to always provide backup surgical coverage."

She said Hahnemann has now "identified backup surgical support and the heart transplant program will return to active status shortly."

The other options for adult transplant patients in Philadelphia are Jefferson, Temple University Hospital, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Jefferson did six heart transplants last year and another six so far this year.

Temple voluntarily deactivated its heart transplant program in July 2011 because of low surgical volume and reopened in January 2012 after hiring a new surgeon. In recent years it had averaged five transplants annually, half the number required to meet federal quality standards. Temple did eight heart transplants last year and has done three this year.

Penn has the largest heart transplant program in Pennsylvania. It did 42 transplants last year and 29 so far this year.

Contact Stacey Burling at 215-854-4944 or sburling@phillynews.com.

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