NASHVILLE, Tennessee, (April 25, 2016) – Saint Thomas Health has re-launched its heart transplant program after receiving certification to perform heart transplants from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), officials announced today. Kyle Stribling, M.D., will serve as the medical director of the heart transplant program, and Ashok N. Babu, M.D., will serve as surgical director of the program. Babu recently joined Saint Thomas Health, a member of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system, from the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver.
As the largest heart failure program in the state, Saint Thomas Heart serves more than 5,000 patients each year in Saint Thomas Health clinics and hospitals. It currently is following more than 20 heart failure patients monthly who may be candidates for a heart transplant once they are strong enough to receive one. Officials expect the first heart transplant surgery to be performed at Saint Thomas West Hospital within the next six months.
A. Brian Wilcox, Jr., M.D., Chief Physician Executive, Saint Thomas Heart
“For more than 40 years, Saint Thomas Heart has served the Nashville community with innovative, holistic heart care. We’re pleased to have this opportunity to relaunch our transplant program in order to further serve our patients, many of whom have seen the same Saint Thomas Heart physicians for years, know them, and trust them with their care.”
This announcement marks a return to heart transplant for the nine-hospital system. In 1985, Saint Thomas West Hospital became the first hospital in Tennessee, and the 26th in the United States, to establish a heart transplant program. Saint Thomas Health chose to suspend this long-standing program in 2011 after the unexpected loss of key personnel, officials said.
In addition to returning to heart transplant, Saint Thomas Health plans to enhance its capabilities in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a technique that provides temporary respiratory and cardiac support for a person whose heart and/or lungs are not working well enough to maintain life. This step complements the re-launch of the heart transplant program and will further allow Saint Thomas Heart to provide patients with a full spectrum of care.
Stribling is board certified in internal medicine, nuclear cardiology, heart failure and transplant, and internal medicine – cardiovascular diseases. He received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia.
Babu is board certified in cardiac and thoracic surgery and mechanical support, as well as heart and lung transplantation. He received his medical degree from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
ABOUT SAINT THOMAS HEALTH
Saint Thomas Health is Middle Tennessee’s faith-based, not-for-profit health care system united as one healing community. Saint Thomas Health is focused on transforming the health care experience and helping people live healthier lives, with special attention to the poor and vulnerable. The regional health system includes nine hospitals: Saint Thomas Hospital for Spinal Surgery, Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital and Saint Thomas West Hospital in Nashville, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, Saint Thomas Hickman Hospital in Centerville, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville, Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta, Saint Thomas River Park Hospital in McMinnville and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury. A comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities complement the hospital services and cover a 68-county area. Saint Thomas Health is a member of Ascension, a Catholic organization that is the largest not-for-profit health system in the United States. For more information, visit www.STHealth.com.
Ascension (www.ascension.org) is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, person-centered care to all with special attention to persons in poverty and struggling the most. In FY2015, Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Approximately 150,000 associates and 35,000 affiliated providers serve in 1,900 sites of care – including 131 hospitals and more than 30 senior care facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to healthcare delivery, Ascension subsidiaries provide a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, investment management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing organization.