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Medical history made in West Virginia with state’s first heart transplant

MORGANTOWN — Surgeons at the West Virginia University Heart and Vascular Institute and the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance performed West Virginia’s first heart transplant on Saturday.

Robert Parsons, 61, of Chesapeake, Ohio, received the transplanted heart in the inaugural procedure.

“Today marks a new chapter for transplantation in West Virginia,” said Michael Shullo, associate vice president of transplant services for WVU Medicine and leader of the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance. “This is the culmination of a tremendous team effort to support access to organ transplantation for all West Virginians and patients from our surrounding regions.”

The operation took a total of six hours and concluded at noon Saturday. By 4 p.m., Parsons was stable and taken off the ventilator. He was sitting up and visiting with his siblings from Huntington.

The transplant team included heart surgeons Dr. Vinay Badhwar, Dr. Muhammad Salman and Dr. Chris Cook; heart failure cardiologists Dr. Christopher Bianco, Dr. George Sokos and Dr. Marco Caccamo; anesthesiologists Dr. Matthew Ellison and Dr. John Bozek; surgical assistants; transplant coordinators; nurses; pharmacists; social workers; dietitians and perfusionists.

“On behalf of the tremendous team of your WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, it is an honor and privilege to bring access to this much-needed and precious, life-saving therapy to our patient today,” Badhwar said.

Badhwar is a transplant surgeon and executive chair of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and the WVU Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.

“We have opened the doorway to a new future for West Virginians, who no longer have to travel out of state for heart transplantation,” Badhwar added.

The WVU Medicine program has several more patients in need currently on a waiting list for heart transplantation.

“This heart transplant was the first ever in West Virginia’s 156-year history, and it marked a pivotal moment for the i0nstitute as it continues to establish itself as one of the premier heart and vascular programs in the United States,” said Albert L. Wright Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System. “We are proud of the team of dedicated professionals who made this surgery a success, and we are honored to bring this critical service to the people of West Virginia and all we serve.”

For information on the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/Heart. For information on transplantation or to refer a potential heart transplant patient, call the WVU Medicine Transplant Alliance at (304) 974-3004. To register as an organ donor, visit www.registerme.org/wvumedicine.

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