Winter 2017

The Fab Four

Tufts-affiliated hospital performs four heart transplants in one day.

The Fab Four

Frederick Chen, chief of cardiac surgery at Tufts Medical Center

Tufts Medical Center has long been known for performing the most heart transplants in New England, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, but the hospital took things up a notch on June 15, 2016, when surgeons performed four heart transplants on that single day.

“It’s not ideal, and it stresses the system to the max,” Frederick Chen, chief of cardiac surgery at Tufts Medical Center and a visiting associate professor of surgery, told the Boston Globe in a story celebrating the accomplishment. But when hearts become available, and they represent a good match, there’s no time to waste. “It is our duty,” he said.

Each of the medical center’s six heart surgeons took part in one or more of the transplants. For example, cardiac surgeon Gregory Couper worked on two transplants and spent nearly 16 hours in operating rooms that day. “We didn’t want our patients to lose out on transplants that could be a once-in-a-lifetime offer,” he told the newspaper. “We needed to do the best thing for our patients.”

A month after the surgeries, all four transplant recipients—whom hospital officials referred to collectively as “the Fab Four”—were grateful and recovering well.

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