Pioneers in Heart Transplantation

The Stanford Heart Transplant Program has the accumulated wisdom of more than fifty years of research and patient care experience.

Our doctors and scientists work, collaboratively, to develop many innovations and continue to advance new techniques in transplant surgery.

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300 Pasteur Drive
Stanford, CA 94305
Phone: 650-723-5468 Getting Here
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Our Doctors

Care and Treatment

Heart Transplant Timeline

Heart Innovations

Stanford has long been at the forefront of cardiovascular research.

1958
After years of research, Norman Shumway, MD, PhD, and his colleagues announce in the Journal of the American Medical Association that they are ready to perform the first human heart transplantation. They only await a suitable donor. Ultimately the world's first heart transplantation was performed by Christiaan Barnard in South Africa, in December 1967.
1968
Dr. Shumway and his surgical team perform the first successful adult human heart transplant in the United States on January 6, 1968.
Early 1970's
Stanford pioneers methods to preserve donated organs outside the body. Stanford researchers found that an organ chilled, high-potassium electrolyte solution could be kept in good condition for hours, allowing the organ to be transported over thousands of miles that might exist between the donor and the recipient.
1972
Philip Caves, MB, FRCS, and Margaret Billingham, MD, develop a technique to monitor rejection of the heart via endomyocardial biopsy. The technique employed a special instrument that was introduced through a large neck vein and huided into the right sided pumping chamber of the heart under fluoroscopic control. Several small pieces of the heart were removed and examined under a microscope to determine the presence of rejection. Before this technique, it was difficult to determine when a transplanted heart was being rejected until it was too late. With the development of Cave's cardiac tissue biopsy, rejection could be spotted early and stronger antirejection measures could be taken to save the heart. Dr. Billingham established a heart rejection grading system, the basis of which is still used today to guide immunosuppressive therapies for heart transplant recipients.
1980
Dr. Norman Shumway and his colleagues establish the use of the drug cyclosporine to lower the risk of rejection after heart transplantation. Following a decade of intensive preclinical research and over a decade of clinical experience with heart transplantation by the Stanford team, the introduction of cyclosporine combined with the use of endomyocardial biopsy to diagnose rejection produced improved outcomes. Heart transplantation programs around the world began to achieve improved clinical outcome based on the twenty years of research performed by the Stanford transplant team.
1981
The first simultaneous transplantation of both the heart and lungs was performed by Norman Shumway and Bruce Reitz on Arizona newspaper executive Mary Gohlke. Notably, the operation also was the first successful lung transplantation ever performed.
1984
Dr. Philip Oyer surgically implants the world's first successful ventricular assist device as a bridge to transplantation. Stanford develops and implants the first left-ventricular assist device (LVAD) and uses it as a bridge to keep a patient alive until a heart becomes available for transplantation. The first LVAD was a cumbersome machine, with a four-pound battery pack, and was designed to be temporary, only keeping patients alive until an organ became available for transplant.
1996
Stanford cardiologists are among the first group to show that certain beta-blockers can improve survival and reduce hospitalization rates in patients with heart failure.
2010
Stanford scientists use advanced genome-sequencing technology to measure levels of donor DNA in the recipient's blood. The presence of such DNA is one of the earliest detectable signs of organ rejection.
2011
A large, multi-center study led by Stanford physicians shows that the majority of biopsies in stable patients beyond 6 months post-transplantation can be eliminated using a non-invasive test that measures the gene expression in a patient's blood cells. Stanford's Heart Transplant Program remains the longest continually active program performing heart transplants in the world.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Hospital & Clinics patient, you have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.

Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.

For Patients

Your doctor may request an evaluation by a heart failure specialist, who will review your medical records and determine if additional tests are necessary.

Patients being considered for a heart transplant will be referred to the Cardiomyopathy Center. 

Self-referrals are accepted.

PREPARE FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Bring results from prior lab tests, if requested.

AFTER YOUR APPOINTMENT

Reach a transplant nurse coordinator at 650-498-9909.

International Patients
Phone: +1 650-723-8561
Email: IMS@stanfordmed.org

Call us to make an appointment

650-723-5468