Lutheran to deactivate heart transplant program, new cardiologist sought

Local News

The search is on for a new cardiologist after Lutheran Hospital announced it will no longer have a heart transplant program come April. 

A spokesman for Lutheran Health Network confirmed to WANE 15 News the program would be deactivated effective April 1, after a doctor made plans to move out of state.

A statement from Public Relations Supervisor Geoff Thomas was shared with the newsroom. 

“Lutheran Hospital is inactivating its heart transplant program. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) require programs to have a dedicated cardiologist with specific training, experience and certification for heart transplant programs. Next month, the transplant cardiologist for Lutheran Hospital’s heart transplant program is moving out-of-state. Lutheran Hospital had recruited a replacement for her role but those plans fell through, leaving the program without an advanced heart failure cardiologist to care for and monitor patients. 

We understand this creates uncertainty for patients in our heart transplant program. Our team has spoken with the four patients on Lutheran Hospital’s transplant waiting list, and we are assisting them and our post-transplant patients in transferring their care to the St. Vincent heart transplant program in Indianapolis or another program of the patient’s choice. We are committed to supporting them throughout this process to ensure a smooth transition.

Specific to the ventricular assist device program, Lutheran is taking this opportunity to also re-evaluate its backup surgical coverage. The status of that program remains active at the present time.”

WANE 15 News confirmed  the health network is working to fill the heart failure cardiologist. 

St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis is Lutheran’s preferred place for those on the waiting list to be moved to. According to the Indiana Donor Network, IU Health is the only other option. WANE 15 News was sent a statement form St. Vincent.

“Lutheran Hospital has selected St. Vincent as the preferred provider of choice for their heart patients. Our team of skilled physicians and clinical staff have been caring for patients throughout the state for many years and will work collaboratively with the Lutheran Hospital team to ensure there is a smooth transition of care for each patient that we are so privileged to serve.”

Also according to the Indiana Donor Network, 69 people are needing heart transplants across the Hoosier State. 

The first heart transplant to be done at Lutheran happened back in 1985, at the hospital’s old location on Fairfield Ave. 34 years later, more than 300 heart transplants have been completed. 

In 2015, WANE 15 News shared a series of special reports about the 30th anniversary for the heart transplant program. Click here for the department’s history: https://www.wane.com/community/health/heart-to-heart-30-years-of-transplants_20180323052706418/1071577657

Dr. Joseph Ladowski, the former surgical director of the program and Lutheran heart transplant surgeon retired ahead of the move to stop the transplants. 

The change at Lutheran Hospital, follows the announcement of a new downtown hospital replacing St. Joseph Hospital in December, which lost its burn unit verification, and a disagreement with a group of gastrointestinal medicine specialists which led to them temporarily leaving the hospital.

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