Oregon Health & Science University has placed its heart transplant program on hold indefinitely while leaders try to replace four cardiologists who announced their departures in the past few weeks.

The heart transplant program will go dark Friday. That leaves Oregon without a heart transplant center for the foreseeable future, meaning local patients must now travel to Seattle or San Francisco for care.

Three cardiologists have resigned in the past two weeks and will leave by the end of September. Dr. Jill Gelow left previously. OHSU leaders decided last Friday to suspend the program for 14 days.

There is now no date on when — or if — the program will restart.

While the heart transplant surgeons are still at OHSU, there is now no one to follow up with new heart recipients.

OHSU said Friday that all 20 patients on the wait list either have referrals to different hospitals, or have decided not to transfer.

However, the suspension also touches patients who need follow-up care or evaluations from heart failure specialists.

An OHSU statement said that 327 post-transplant patients are working with the university to figure out where they will receive care.

Previously, Chief Medical Officer Renee Edwards said patients would be the first to know if the 14-day period were extended. Some patients have been notified so far of the change in status, but a statement said that others have still not heard.

A cardiac care hotline at 1-833-674-8236 will be staffed 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday to Sept. 7. Patients and families of patients can also email cardiaccare@ohsu.edu with questions about the inactivation.

OHSU will have to consult with federal authorities to restart the program, if officials are able to rebuild the cardiology team.

Patients who don’t need transplants or long-term heart pumps — such as people who need complex cardiovascular and heart failure care — can still attend OHSU as normal.

OHSU’s chief of cardiology is also named in a lawsuit by a former cardiologist who alleges Joaquin Cigarroa, as well as other department heads, violated her civil rights while she worked at the hospital.

— Molly Harbarger


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