Summer 2013

Letter From the Chair

The UCSF Department of Surgery is world renowned for its many innovations in the area of solid organ transplantation. I am pleased to note that we are entering a new era in the care of adult and pediatric patients in need of heart and lung transplants, as well as those patients with heart failure.

As this issue of Inside Surgery highlights, the UCSF Lung Transplant Program, led by Jasleen Kukreja, M.D., MPH, is employing a new technology called ex vivo lung perfusion that will help to increase the availability of donor lungs. She and her colleagues are also pioneers in successfully using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) as a bridge to transplant.

We recruited Georg Wieselthaler, M.D., to lead the Cardiac Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program. He is a distinguished heart transplant surgeon, and is also a leading researcher in the area of ventricular assist devices (VADs). He and his team have performed 13 heart transplants since his arrival. His team is also working to make UCSF Medical Center a West Coast training center for the HeartWare HVAD; Dr. Wieselthaler has implanted more than 60 of these devices in Europe and the Middle East, and it was recently approved by the FDA as bridge-to-transplant therapy.

We also recently recruited Gordon Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, as the new chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery. He is leading the formation of the new UCSF Pediatric Heart Failure and Pediatric Heart and Lung Transplant Program. Dr. Cohen brings extensive experience as a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, providing the full spectrum of care to patients with heart and lung failure. He is an expert in correcting congenital heart defects, and also served as a co-investigator in the clinical trial of the Berlin Heart EXCOR, which was recently approved by the FDA as the first pediatric VAD. Dr. Cohen has also performed many pediatric heart, lung and combined heart-lung transplants, and will soon be offering these procedures at UCSF.

Early referral can increase treatment options, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you in providing the best care for patients. It is truly a privilege to work with you.


Nancy L. Ascher, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery
Isis Distinguished Professor in Transplantation
Leon Goldman, M.D. Distinguished Professor in Surgery

Related Information

News Releases

Heart Failure Patient Loses 100 Pounds Before Transplant Surgery
Suitulaga "Sugi" Hunkin has been overweight most of his life. Because of his size, he also had trouble breathing and experienced irregular heartbeat — symptoms his doctors diagnosed as a heart disease called cardiomyopathy, which usually leads to heart failure. He needed heart transplantation surgery to replace his failing heart, but before that could happen, he needed to lose at least 100 pounds.

Teen Liver Transplant Recipient to Honor Donor at 2013 Rose Parade
Alfonso Garcia still carries around a baseball cap that belonged to a 22-year-old man who passed away in 2010 having never met him. But the cap is just a small token of an even bigger reminder that the 18-year-old college freshman carries with him every day: the man's liver, which saved Garcia's life. Since receiving the liver transplant at UCSF, Garcia has made it a mission to spread the word about the value of organ donation.