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Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support

Matt fishing for Gerrard trout on Lake Pend Oreille

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Uniting High Volume and High Quality

As one of the largest heart transplant programs in the U.S., the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai offers excellent outcomes, exceeding national survival averages despite treating some of the most complex cases.

Matt fishing for Gerrard trout on Lake Pend Oreille

Matt fishing for Gerrard trout on Lake Pend Oreille


  • More than 34% of patients go from listing to transplant within 30 days, exceeding the national average
  • Novel therapeutic options in the pretransplant, perioperative and posttransplant periods to reduce organ rejection
  • Precision medicine efforts evaluating patients’ genes, environment and lifestyle for individualized treatment strategies that optimize outcomes
  • An ex vivo perfusion (heart-in-a-box) program that increases the number of usable organs by keeping the heart beating during transport, extending the distance a heart can be transported
  • A donation after cardiac death program, which uses an ex vivo platform and normothermic regional perfusion to expand the donor pool and the number of heart transplants by about 25%
  • Faculty recognized for their impact in the field, including the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation’s 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient


  • Tailored immunosuppressant regimen to transplant recipients’ unique factors
  • Multiple faculty-led clinical trials to expand patient care options
  • Routine use of statins based on our pioneering research, leading to only 5% organ rejection
  • Therapeutic options for antibody reduction in one of the nation’s largest desensitization centers
  • Expertise in transplants for complex patients bridged from mechanical circulatory support

Tocilizumab to Target Inflammation and Alloimmunity After Transplant for End-Stage Heart Disease

Investigators at the Smidt Heart Institute continue to lead research endeavors to improve survival and outcomes for heart transplant patients and make transplant successful for the sickest patients. They have initiated a Phase II, prospective, multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial investigating the effects of tocilizumab on inflammatory and alloimmune responses and defining the utility of several noninvasive biomarkers for risk assessment, diagnosis and prognostics.

durable and temporary mechanical circulatory support devices placed in FY23

ECMO cases in FY23

heart transplants in FY23

heart transplants to date

"They saved my life. They do that every day, I know, but I’ve only got one life. So, to be included on that list is pretty special."

–Matt Philbrook
Heart transplant patient
Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho

the case

Matt Philbrook (61) presented with restrictive cardiomyopathy and chest inflammation due to radiation treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma in the 1980s. A heart valve replacement done locally in 2019 began to fail, and Matt’s Idaho cardiologist told him he would require a heart transplant from a center with advanced capabilities.

the care

After the Cedars-Sinai surgeons and comprehensive cardiology team told Matt they could perform the transplant, he temporarily moved to California for care while he awaited a heart. His tenuous condition required intra-aortic balloon pump therapy in the intensive care unit. When a heart became available, his transplant surgery went smoothly despite the radiation-induced calcification. After short-term setbacks, Matt was discharged to regain his strength and return to the active lifestyle he valued so much.

the conclusion

Matt made it home in time to help his daughter move to college. Within two months of his transplant, he was logging 5 miles per week on the treadmill, and he has now returned to farming, fishing, snowmobiling and enjoying the outdoors with friends and loved ones.