With the recruitment of Gordon A. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, as the new chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery, UCSF Medical Center is establishing the new UCSF Pediatric Heart Failure and Pediatric Heart and Lung Transplant Program. This comprehensive program will treat the full range of conditions related to pediatric heart and lung failure, and will serve as a resource and model of excellence both nationally and internationally.
Cohen, a distinguished pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, brings substantial expertise in performing complicated heart and lung surgeries and transplants for newborns, infants, children and adolescents. He has performed more than 100 pediatric heart transplants, 12 pediatric lung transplants and several combined pediatric heart-lung transplants, as well as hundreds of surgeries to correct congenital heart defects. He was recruited from Seattle Children's Hospital, where he built one of the country's leading pediatric cardiac care programs.
"Our goal is to build the most successful and comprehensive program in the western United States at UCSF," said Cohen. "Because there are so many different birth defects of the heart, there are dozens of different operations that we do. It is like going to a restaurant and ordering off an a la carte menu: you can have a missing part here, or a hole there, or an inappropriate connection there. We know how to fix each of those defects individually, and we then put them together, so you can create normal or survivable physiology."
The most common procedure is ventricular septal defect closure. Among the more complex lesions is hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which patients are born without a functioning left ventricle. Cohen has been highly successful in treating this condition using a three-stage operation, including a Norwood procedure on neonates, a second-stage operation at about 6 months of age, and a third-stage operation around 3 years of age.
"That is an example of a palliative operation," said Cohen. "We create survivable physiology, in which we ask the right ventricle to function as the systemic ventricle and pump blood to the body. While we can palliate that birth defect for a period of time, a large number of those patients will ultimately develop heart failure and require transplantation. By establishing a transplant program here, we will be able to offer the full spectrum of treatment on-site. Because a lot of these patients are diagnosed prenatally, you actually work with the parents before the patient is even born. We want to be able to walk with the patient and their family through the entire trajectory of care."
Cohen is well equipped to establish this full spectrum of service at UCSF. His experience includes:
Cohen is currently recruiting a pediatric transplant cardiologist and transplant coordinator, and hopes to be able to begin offering pediatric heart and lung transplants within the next 12 months.
"It is an honor to be part of the faculty here," said Cohen. "UCSF is filled with intellectual firepower that allows for the development of the very best programs and the highest levels of research."
For more information or to refer a patient, please call (415) 476-3501.
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