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News and Articles
USC Heart Transplant Program boasts best survival rates in U.S.
By Katie Neith
HSC Weekly, August 10, 2007

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at USC is at the top of its game, according to a recent report that listed its Heart Transplant Program at Keck Hospital of USC as having a statistically higher survival rate than the national average.

The report, released by the U.S. Transplant Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, compiled risk-adjusted survival rates for the 125 heart transplant centers across the country. Five programs had observed results that were statistically worse than the risk-adjusted expected outcomes, and USC was the only center that achieved a statistically higher survival rating. Further, 119 programs did not differ significantly from the national average.

"Obviously we are very pleased. We have worked extremely hard at building the program over the past 14 years," said Mark Barr, associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. "Despite dealing with a high-risk group of patients, these results reflect the fact that our program has always emphasized quality of care and attention to the details."

Barr emphasized that the program's philosophy has always been to make a concerted effort to perform transplants on only those patients who have no other options left, either through conventional surgery or aggressive non-surgical therapy.

He pointed out that while the program averages 20 adult heart transplants per year - a number that may sound low compared to the volume of transplants that liver and kidney programs do - in the field of heart transplantation, this number puts USC in the top 19 percent for volume for all centers in the U.S.

In addition, Barr said that even though the reported statistics focused on one- and three-year survival rates, the program boasts an excess of 70 percent survival rates eight to 10 years after transplant.

"This is a true team effort - not just among the doctors - and this unique ranking is a testament to the transplant coordinators and all of the other members of our program," said Barr, who is the past president of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation and is the western regional thoracic representative for the United Network for Organ Sharing.

"We have a true personal feel in our transplant clinic and develop a close relationship with our patients. They never have to worry about the quality of care they are receiving."

Related link: Mark L. Barr, M.D. bio page


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