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Patient Dennis Thompson thanked each member of his care team, including PCA Janet Wright, with a hug on the day he was discharged from BWH; Cardiologist Gilbert Mudge, MD, and Thompson pause for a photo before discharge.
While patient Dennis Thompson waited for his dinner one winter evening, he got a surprise. Instead of a meal, his transplant team brought him the news that a donor had been found and he would undergo a heart transplant that night. On Feb. 11, he became BWH’s 600th heart transplant recipient.
“People told me it would happen when I least expected,” said Thompson, of Rochester, N.H. “But nothing prepared me for that moment. I’m extremely grateful to the donor, and I encourage everyone to be an organ donor.”
Since performing New England’s first heart transplant in 1984, BWH has become one of the busiest cardiac transplantation and circulatory assist programs in New England, with patients’ survival exceeding national averages. With this latest milestone, the tradition of excellence in cardiac care continues.
Before his discharge Feb. 24, Thompson and his care team, including his transplant cardiologist, nurses, rehab staff, social workers, Shapiro 7 and 9 staff and others, gathered for a small ceremony to mark the milestone, where Thompson had the honor of cutting the cake.
“It’s very rewarding to see patients come in with such a need and leave the hospital walking, ready for a second chance. Sometimes they are in the hospital for a while, as in Dennis’ case, and the staff becomes almost a second family for them,” said Advanced Heart Disease Coordinator Michelle Young, NP, who has worked with Thompson since he was placed on the organ transplant list about two and a half years ago.
Transplant Surgeon and Surgical Director of the Circulatory Assist Program Gregory Couper, MD, who led the surgical team during Thompson’s heart transplant, said it was an honor to play a part in reaching the milestone and even more satisfying to know that is not just the patients who benefit from this procedure.
“When a person undergoes this procedure, it also touches the lives of their families and friends,” said Couper.
Cardiac Surgery Chief R. Morton “Chip” Bolman III, MD, said the milestone is a testament to the teamwork of all who are involved.
“The staff who care for these patients have made our program one of the best in the region,” said Bolman.
He added that organ donors and their families should be commended for their generous gifts.
“The real heroes in this milestone are the donors and their families,” Bolman said. “They provide patients with a chance to extend their lives.”
Watch Thompson reflect on the day he became BWH’s 600th heart transplant recipient, and view photos from the celebration.