Consortium Celebrates Heart Transplantation

Dr. Mohammad Quader

This year’s Pauley Consortium dinner highlighted the 50th anniversary of Virginia’s first heart transplant, performed at MCV by Dr. Richard Lower on May 25, 1968.  

The dinner, held in May at the Dominion Arts Center’s Dorothy Pauley Square, included many Pauley friends and supporters. The guests included three heart transplant patients and several retired cardiac surgeons who had worked with Lower, including Dr. Joe Deignan, a member of the team that performed the first transplant.

“As a cardiothoracic surgeon myself, I came to VCU Medical Center from the Cleveland Clinic in 2000 because of the incredible program Dr. Dick Lower built,” said Dr. Vigneshwar Kasirajan, one of the evening’s speakers. Since the first transplant, “we have performed 590 heart transplants at VCU Medical Center as well as more than 300 at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center.”

Kasirajan and Dr. Mohammed Quader spoke about innovations in heart transplantation and advanced heart failure, and what to expect in the next decades. Dr. Daniel Tang was unable to join the celebration as he was finishing a heart and liver transplant that evening. The combined heart-liver transplant is a rare, lifesaving procedure that treats complex and often fatal diseases including familial amyloidosis polyneuropathy.

Other speakers included Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen, who gave opening remarks and spoke about the new research pilot grants funded by donations to the Consortium’s annual fund. Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health, introduced a video featuring transplant survivor and VCU alumna Jeni Simonitis. Dr. Peter Buckley, dean of VCU School of Medicine, and Deborah Davis, CEO of VCU Hospitals and Clinics, announced the leadership gift to establish the Christine B. and David E. Cottrell Surgical Innovation Suite, a new facility designed to foster cutting-edge surgical research and education.

Ellenbogen recognized the importance of the donors and others gathered. “We appreciate your support and investment in the research, clinical and educational mission place just blocks away from where we are now,” he said. “We are able to be extraordinary thanks to your support.”

To see a preview of the planned surgical suite, please visit surgery.vcu.edu/aboutus/cottrells

Dr. Mohammed Quader discusses innovations in heart transplantation at the Consortium dinner.