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Event to celebrate heart transplantation milestone

Jun. 8, 2017, 9:20 AM

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is home to the second busiest heart transplant program in the country and ranked No. 1 in the Southeast region for volume for its combined adult and pediatric procedures.

The Vanderbilt Transplant Center recently reached a milestone — 1,000 heart transplantations — and to commemorate the occasion, the program is hosting a celebration on June, 12 at 5:15 p.m. in Langford Auditorium.

It’s an event that 60-year-old Jimmy Moore, the center’s longest living heart transplant patient, wouldn’t miss.

The Vanderbilt Heart Transplant Program was created in 1985.

Moore, who was 29 when he received a new heart on March, 23, 1986, is the program’s fourth patient.

He is traveling from Easley, South Carolina, to attend the milestone celebration.

“It’s 361 miles from my driveway to the hospital parking lot,” chuckled Moore, who added it wasn’t always light-hearted for him and his wife of nearly 42 years, Robyn.

“Back when I was being considered for a transplant, they made it very clear that they had only done a few heart transplants,” said Moore. “There was not a whole lot to go off of for success rates. I remember talking it over with my wife.

“Now 31 years later, I am still living life to the fullest. I love life so much. It’s incredible. I never thought I would live this long.”

Moore will be joined by other heart transplant patients, transplant team members and his transplant surgeon and Vanderbilt Transplant Center founder, Bill Frist, M.D., former U.S. Senate Majority Leader. Frist will deliver the keynote address.

Other heart transplant milestones at Vanderbilt include the state’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1987 and Tennessee’s first neonatal heart transplant in 1989.

The overall program, which includes both adult and pediatric cases, saw a record 92 transplantations in 2016 and 65 in 2015. This year, the program has already performed 39 heart transplantations (between Jan. 1 and June 2) placing the total number of transplantations at 1,014.

It’s a far stretch from 1985, when Walter Merrill, M.D., professor of Cardiac Surgery, performed the center’s first heart transplant. That year there were two transplantations.

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