June 1, 1986.
On this day, surgeons in University Hospital transplanted a donor heart to an adult patient who had congestive heart failure. The operation was the first heart transplant performed at the Indiana University Medical Center on the IUPUI campus.
Previously, Medical Center physicians, nurses, and other professionals had developed decades of experience with organ transplants. The first kidney transplant in Indiana occurred in 1963 in the Med Center, and to date nearly eight hundred kidney transplants had occurred there. In 1985 a bone-marrow transplantation program began in the Riley Hospital for Children. A cardiac transplant team had assembled and trained to undertake the task. Dr. John W. Brown and Dr. Yousuf Mahomed, heart surgeons, performed the operation. Brown explained that, "although heart transplant surgery is not complicated, it is still one of the most essential and important surgeries performed anywhere." Other cardiac surgeries were often more difficult, he said.
Brown noted that a number of adult and pediatric heart transplants were planned in the coming year, and that they expected to do twenty per year thereafter. As part of the planning, cardiologists were at work to identify potential donor hearts and match them to patients in need. The transplant needed to occur within four hours of harvesting. The procurement team was prepared to travel up to one thousand miles by van or aircraft to collect a transplantable heart. A press release about the first surgery noted that the donor heart came from Indiana.
In the coming years, medical staff in campus hospitals widened their expertise in transplant surgeries. As previously noted in this blog, pancreatic transplant operations commenced in 1988.
To learn more about the development of the IU School of Medicine and the Medical Center, please consult records in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives. Contact staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.