Sentara Heart Transplant Program Celebrates 20 Years
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Sentara Heart Transplant Program Celebrates 20 Years 

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Program’s Second Recipient, 78, Returns for Anniversary Reunion

October 19 anniversary event includes scholarship announcement and kicks off week of celebrations at Sentara Heart Hospital.

Norfolk, Virginia – October 16, 2009 – Charles Hamlet will be among a host of transplant recipients gathering at Sentara Heart Hospital as Sentara celebrates the 20th anniversary of its Heart Transplant program. As the second patient ever to receive a heart at Sentara, he is grateful for the quality of life he’s been able to enjoy over the last 20 years.

The 20th anniversary celebration will be held in the Sentara Heart Hospital lobby from 4:00 – 6:00 pm on Monday, October 19. Among those expected to speak are Howard Kern, Sentara president and chief operating officer; Mary Blunt, vice president and administrator of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital; Jeffrey Rich, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon; and hospital chaplain James Hoy, who will offer a blessing.

Sentara’s Heart Program is consistently ranked among the nation’s best in U.S. News and World Report. The Sentara Heart Transplant program has transplanted 293 patients and follows more patients today than at any other time in its history.

In addition, the program has expanded its care for advanced heart failure over the years to include ventricular-assist devices (VADs). VADs can assume most of the pumping function of a weak heart, either until a donor organ becomes available or for long term treatment in patients who are not transplant candidates.

Kelvin Clark, a current patient in the Sentara Transplant Program, will also be at the anniversary celebration. Clark is 28 years old and has been living on a VAD since June of this year. Clark has a strong family history of advanced heart disease. His mother received a new heart in 1993 and his aunt had a heart transplant last year. Clark has also lost an uncle and two sisters to heart disease, so his participation on Monday is filled with mixed emotion. While he admits that being kept alive by a VAD is not the ideal situation, he was still able to celebrate his own large wedding on July 18, not even two full months after being placed on a VAD.

Sentara continues to offer and expand the range of additional therapies for advanced heart disease, including implantation of defibrillators and pacemakers. They also place a great emphasis on heart health in hopes that prevention may one day serve as the best medicine.

The audience on Monday will include as many as 160 heart recipients and their families, physicians and staff from the Sentara Heart Transplant program. John Herre, MD, cardiologist and medical director of the Sentara Advanced Heart Failure and Heart Transplant Programs, will announce a new scholarship established for transplant recipients.

In honor of the 20 year anniversary of the Sentara Heart Transplant Program, funds have been designated for the establishment of the Pursuit of Improved Healthcare Scholarship. Any transplant recipient is eligible to apply for this scholarship in the amount of $3,000 toward a health education program at the Sentara College of Health Sciences.

“Our team members encourage patients to seize second chances and live a full life after their transplant,” explains Herre. “We hope that with this opportunity patients go on to celebrate years of success that come as the result of hard work and determination.”

Eligible applicants are not limited to heart transplant patients only and the transplant could have been performed at any transplant center in the country.

“This scholarship is meant to encourage a transplant recipient to further his or her education and embark on a rewarding healthcare career,” adds Herre. “Future patients will benefit from the talent and dedication of an individual who carries the perspectives of both patient and provider.”

Following Monday’s celebration, Sentara will host exhibits from several community organizations, including LifeNet Health, the American Heart Association, Mended Hearts the Transplant Support Group and others throughout the week. Exhibits will be community based and are open to the public from Tuesday through Friday (October 20-23) from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.


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