One year. 17 heart transplants. New heart transplant program has milestone year in midst of pandemic.

Man in hospital bed holding a heart-shaped pillow

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 75,000 people on the active waiting list for organs on any given day. With 11 transplant programs across the United States, HCA Healthcare is proud to help provide the gift of life through transplant medicine. Below, learn more about HCA Healthcare’s newest heart transplant program. Plus heart transplant survivors share their lifesaving stories as part of Donate Life Month.

Despite all of the challenges and unknowns that 2020 brought, the heart transplant program at HCA Healthcare’s Largo Medical Center in Largo, Florida had a milestone year. Largo Medical Center started the heart transplant program March 19, 2020 – at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – and has performed 17 transplants to date.

In the face of uncertainly, HCA Healthcare colleagues rose to the occasion, using incredible skill, compassion and ingenuity to prove that nothing was more important than being there for our patients.

“We have an ongoing commitment to provide our community with the level of care that they need and deserve. I’m incredibly proud of the team at Largo Medical Center for their dedication to our patients, which includes the expansion of our transplant program to include heart and now dual-organ transplant,” said Adam Rudd, chief executive officer at Largo Medical Center. “We are humbled and proud to provide care to not only our community but our own fellow caregivers from other facilities within our HCA Healthcare organization.”

Healthcare hero receives heart transplant

Man in hospital bed holding heart-shaped pillow.
Brian Hobson, an anesthesia tech at HCA Healthcare’s Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point received a heart transplant at sister-facility Largo Medical Center.

Brian Hobson, an anesthesia tech at HCA Healthcare’s Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson, Florida knew he had a heart issue after having a heart procedure in 2013. By December 2020, the father of two knew his condition had gotten much worse.

After multiple hospital stays, tests and physician appointments, he found himself at Largo Medical Center where he learned he was being recommended for heart transplantation. The team installed a temporary cardiac assist device to help support the heart function and distribute blood across the body, which ultimately served as a bridge until the transplant. After being on the heart transplant waitlist for approximately a week, Hobson received the call that the perfect match was ready for him. He received his heart transplant and is looking forward to his continued recovery.

Dr. Andrew Boyle medical director of the heart transplant program explains how meaningful it was to take care of a fellow colleague saying, “It is a tremendous satisfaction to be able to treat our own HCA Healthcare colleagues who develop advanced heart failure all within the HCA Healthcare system, something not possible as little as a year ago. As our mission statement says, above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life, especially one of our own family.”

Patient receives dual heart, kidney transplants

Woman wearing orange floral dress.
Audrey Webster, dual-organ transplant patient.

Audrey Webster comes from a family of 9 siblings who share the love for cooking, family gatherings and travel to their native home of South America.  Her healthcare journey began when she developed severe kidney disease, which required her to receive dialysis for four years. Audrey was later notified that she had developed heart failure, which would ultimately lead her to a heart transplant. Two of Webster’s sisters are also recipients of transplantation so she was familiar with the process.

On November 11, 2020, Webster received the call she will never forget. Largo Medical Center was prepared to transplant her heart and kidney.

Dual-organ transplantation is less common with only 35 heart and kidney transplants for 2020 in Florida, according to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). She was the first dual-organ transplant patient at Largo Medical Center.

“It’s incredible to see the transplant teams come together for our first dual organ transplantation at Largo Medical Center. Our transplant program has continued to expand to meet the growing needs of our community,” said Dr. Christiano Caldeira, surgical director of the heart transplant program.

Today, you can find Webster back to her love of cooking and visiting with her family virtually throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Her love for travel will soon be a reality as she plans for a return trip home to South America at the end of this year.

Man receives heart transplant after finding out heart was only functioning at 5%

Eli McCoy, a 26-year-old roofing company owner, started experiencing symptoms on and off that were a result of his body fighting liver and kidney failure along with a viral infection.

After an emergency room visit, he was sent to Largo Medical Center for a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) and shortly thereafter a heart transplant. After receiving his LVAD, he remembers being ‘close to going’ with the team surrounding him. He said, “this team that I just met, made me feel like we weren’t strangers.” He explained that the way they depicted a sense of calmness, confidence and laughter, making jokes to keep him at ease let him know that they weren’t going to give up on him.

Eli now has a clear understanding that he is meant to live a full, happy life. “After the transplant, whenever I paddled across the lake, I remember getting to that other side and thanking God that I was here,” he says. “And the very next thing I was thankful for was all of the people at Largo. They have helped me throughout every step of the way – whenever I had a worry or question or doubt. I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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