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Hospital performed record-breaking 36 heart transplants last year

Photo by Adam Feibel

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute conducted 36 successful heart transplants last year, earning the top spot for most heart surgeries performed in Canada in 2013.

“I’m very proud of what’s been accomplished by my colleagues in the last year,” Dr. Thierry Mesana, incoming president and CEO of the institute, told the Ottawa Sun. “It’s really a big tour de force.”

Vincent Lamontagne, senior manager of public affairs at the institute, described its success as a “team effort” and that its achievement is a reflection of the hard work of its members. He added that transplants are “like giving the gift of life, and it means a lot to our team.”

Normally, the Heart Institute completes 20 transplants a year and has never had a 100 per cent patient survival rate. Lamontagne said the feat of performing 36 successful transplants in 12 months is remarkable, he added that organ availability is a major factor.

“We got 36 this year. We might be doing 20 or 25 next year, but it’s very important for us to do as many as possible for our patients,” he said. “If we’re able to do 36 that’s one thing but to be able to say that all 36,  survived — that truly is everyone working towards this achievement.”

According to Lamontagne, on a few occasions, the institute performed more than one heart transplant a day and required a large team of nurses, doctors, and physiotherapists to assemble for the transplant and post-op care.

“It’s such short notice when the heart is made available. Everybody has to come together to make that happen,” Lamontagne said.

The Heart Institute performed its 500th transplant surgery in 2012.

All of the institute’s heart surgeons are equipped and trained to perform transplants so the institute never has to turn down a donation, which is often the case at other facilities.

Lamontagne said the institute is one of the top two research facilities in the world and that their ability to perform successful heart transplants is largely due to their continual research and study in the field.

The institute purports to be in the 98th percentile in the world for patient satisfaction.