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Published: Wednesday, 7/23/2014

Ohio State performs its 400th heart transplant

DOMINIC BINKLEY
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

A 67-year-old Springfield woman became the Wexner Medical Center’s 400th heart transplant recipient last week.

Peg Jung said she is feeling great after receiving the transplant on July 16. She was diagnosed with ischemic cardiomyopathy in the fall.

The condition causes the heart muscle to weaken to a point that it no longer can pump blood to the rest of the body.

Doctors implanted a left ventricular assist device to help pump her heart and placed her on a transplant waiting list on July 3. She got her new heart during a six-hour procedure.

“I am the aunt of 18 and the great aunt of 14,” Jung said. “This means that now I’ll get to help share their lives, educate them, be with them and let them know about my life.”

Dr. Robert Higgins, who directs the heart-transplant program at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, was one of two surgeons who performed the operation.

Higgins thanked donors, who make the 2,200 transplants performed nationwide each year possible.

“We’re always dependent on the courageous decision to donate, and that just makes all the difference in the world,” he said. “It really is a gift of life.”

Wexner Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic are the only adult heart-transplant centers in the state. Nationwide Children’s Hospital performs pediatric heart transplants.

Ohio State has performed heart transplants since 1986.

The number of heart transplants performed in Ohio dipped last year to its lowest level since 1989, but not because the waiting list is becoming shorter.

As of Friday, there were 159 people in Ohio waiting for heart transplants. Nationwide, more than 4,000 were waiting.

The Cleveland Clinic, which performed about two-thirds of the state’s heart transplants last year, has seen its transplantation numbers decline in the past seven years by more than 40 percent, from 76 to 44.

Jung, who is a registered organ donor, said there always is hope.

“I think it’s so important that people know there is something you can do,” Jung said. “A heart attack doesn’t mean death. There’s so much hope for people.”

dbinkley@dispatch.com

@dbinkley4

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©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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