Cleveland Clinic Reaches Milestones in Heart Transplantation and Lung Transplantation

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In July, Cleveland Clinic completed its 2000th heart and 2000th lung transplantations. The first program in the country to reach this landmark.   Cleveland Clinic is one of the largest heart transplant programs in the country with survival outcomes higher than the national average. (SRTR Data: Adult 1 yr survival: 97% {national avg 91%} and 3 yr survival:  88% {national avg 85%} Peds: 3 yr survival: 95% {national avg 89%})

Cleveland Clinic began innovative work on heart transplants in 1968, with the official beginning of the program in 1984. On average, Cleveland Clinic performs 50-60 transplants per year, including between five to eight pediatric transplants per year.  In 1998, a record-breaking year for the program, 113 patients were transplanted, including eight pediatric patients.

Cleveland Clinic lung transplantation program began in 1990. In the last five years, Cleveland Clinic has proven to be a national leader in lung transplant, both in patient volumes and successful outcomes. The transplant program has established a reputation for accepting and transplanting challenging, complex patients. In 2009, Cleveland Clinic performed a record-breaking year for the program, 157 transplants, whereas on average, 100 lung transplants are performed.

Cleveland Clinic has also performed transplants including several dual organ transplants including heart-liver, heart-lung and heart-kidney transplants on pediatric and adult patients.

“There are only a few programs in the world that have continued to have a long term commitment to doing a large volume of heart transplants. We began our pioneering work on heart transplants in 1968 and we are delighted we now have served 2000 patients with helping them with heart transplants. Even more remarkable is the excellent survival that is achieved in the modern era with heart transplants, and, indeed the Cleveland Clinic’s Teams long term outcomes exceeds that of other programs in the USA. We continue to devote efforts on further improving outcomes and support of patient who are not candidates and instead receive LVADs, an operation that has also come into its own for excellent outcomes.”

“Lung transplantation was one of the last hurdles to overcome in successful transplantation in humans to improve long term survival in patients with end stage organ failure. The progressive success achieved by surgeons, pulmonologists, and immunologists in the last few decades has been an extraordinary success in medicine. Furthermore, the evolution of “lung in the box” perfusion of potential lung organs has further advanced the field so that even more lungs are available for saving patient’s lives. We are very proud of our Lung Transplant Team having done the most lung transplants by any center in the USA.”
Lars Svensson, MD, Chairman, Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute

For adult patients a heart transplant is a second chance at life, but for pediatric patients it can truly help give them a chance to begin theirs. Our dedicated, multidisciplinary team of pediatric cardiac transplant surgeons, transplant cardiologists, specially trained cardiac nurses, social workers and child life specialists help us provide coordinated and comprehensive evaluation, treatment and follow-up.  In coordination with our world renowned adult program our patients have access to the latest innovative treatments. From infants to elderly age groups, Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Children’s provides vital heart transplant care for Northeast Ohio and far beyond.
Gerard  Boyle, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric Heart Failure/Transplant Services

“Cleveland Clinic is a national leader in lung transplant due to the talent and dedication of our caregivers, who guide patients and their loved ones through the lung transplant process and help them to be successful after their surgery. Because of the hard work and commitment of our team members, we are able to accept and transplant medically complex patients. The 2000th lung transplant is an important milestone – and we all feel very fortunate to work in this field because we recognize that every time a patient receives a lung transplant, they are receiving a special gift – a second chance at life.”
Marie Budev, DO, Medical Director, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant Program

“Our program is now in its 30th year and we’re proud to be a leader in lung transplantation. Lungs are a very difficult organ to transplant, but with steady improvements in surgical techniques, post-operative care, and innovative strategies that allow transplantation of more lungs, we have been able to provide this life-saving therapy to many more patients, and the success rate for patients is quite high.”
Kenneth McCurry, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Surgical Director, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant Program

Patient Stories

Man Has Same Transplanted Heart for 33 Years

Rick Rideout has dutifully taken all of his prescribed medications for the past 33 years, and he never fails to appear at scheduled check-in appointments with his Cleveland Clinic doctors. Mostly, the 60-year-old Perry, Ohio, resident, who is the second longest-living heart transplant survivor from Cleveland Clinic, believes a key reason for his longevity has been his determination to live life to the fullest.

Cleveland Clinic Doctor Becomes Patient For Lifesaving Heart Transplant

On June 6, 2020, Dr. Rick Wilson completed a 70-mile bike ride that left him feeling more exhausted than usual. One week later he suffered a massive heart attack. It damaged 75% of his heart – an event many people typically don’t survive. Despite ECMO and an implanted temporary mechanical assist device, Rick needed a new heart. Because his lungs and kidneys were beginning to fail, doctors had a very short window of opportunity to intervene. A heart transplant would be his only hope.

Double-Lung Transplant and Triple Bypass Breathe New Life into Missouri Grandfather

Ed Meyer used to use 24 tanks of oxygen a day. He needed a lung transplant, but his coronary artery disease was so advanced it would be risky to perform. He came to Cleveland Clinic for a  complex double-lung transplant and triple-bypass surgery.

Lung Transplant Becomes the First Step in Treating Man with Scleroderma

Ajit Tolani was living with scleroderma until his condition worsened and it started to affect his lungs. Doctors in India told him he had three months to lives. He flew from India to Cleveland Clinic for a life-saving lung transplant and innovative anti-reflux surgery.

About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic – now in its centennial year – is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 70,800 employees worldwide are more than 4,660 salaried physicians and researchers, and 18,500 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2020, there were 8.7 million total outpatient visits, 273,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 217,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at Follow us at News and resources available at

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.