New York State Health Department to open two new heart transplant programs

Published on May 21, 2017

The state Health Department is looking to open two new heart-transplant centers in the New York area — one at NYU Langone and the other at North Shore University Hospital, The Post has learned.

The move would mark the first expansion of Big Apple heart-transplant centers in nearly 20 years.

New York has among the lowest organ-donation rates in the country, and health officials say the opening of the two new transplant centers should help spur more heart donations.

“These programs will expand the availability of high-quality organ-transplant services, help increase donation and transplant rates, and improve the geographic accessibility of these programs, particularly for Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens residents,” said department spokesman Benjamin Rosen.

But the prosed expansion has raised eyebrows. New York-Presbyterian and Mount Sinai in Manhattan, Montefiore in The Bronx and Westchester County Medical Center all perform heart transplants.

The hospitals with existing programs oppose the expansion, which could reduce the number of transplant patients they serve.
The state Public Health and Health Planning Council gave preliminary approval to both proposals.

But some panel members questioned whether the state needed to open two new heart-transplant programs to boost organ donation rates.

Nancy Agard, head of the state’s office for organ donation and transplantation, defended the new centers because both proposals include aggressive efforts to boost organ donations.

The waiting list for heart-transplant patients in the state increased by 40 percent over the past decade, according to NYU officials — who claim that 20 percent will die or become too sick while waiting. The New York State Donate Life Registry reports more than 10,000 New Yorkers as being on waiting lists.

“One person who donates organs (hearts, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestines) can save up to eight lives, while a tissue donor (corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons, veins, etc.) can improve 12 or more lives by restoring eyesight, helping fight infections in burn patients and preventing the loss of mobility and disability,” the Health Department said.

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