• Title

  • Tampa General Hospital and USF Health Team First in the West Florida Region to Successfully Perform a Combined Heart-Liver Transplant

    Media Contact: Beth Hardy
    Senior Communications Specialist
    (813) 844-7322 (direct)

     Tampa General Hospital and USF Health Team First in the West Florida Region to Successfully Perform a Combined Heart-Liver Transplant
    A multi-disciplinary team of physicians and clinical professionals meticulously planned the hospital’s first surgery to provide a patient with a new heart and a new liver.
    Tampa, FL (March 17, 2021) – Tampa General Hospital is first in Tampa Bay and first in West Florida to successfully perform a combined heart and liver transplant on a patient with end-stage heart and liver disease. The patient is 56-year-old Justine Gant, who suffers from both severe heart and liver disease.
    His conditions were so critical that he needed a transplant for both organs.
    “Mr. Gant’s case is unique because his heart and liver disease are not connected. Typically, the heart impacts the liver or the liver disease impacts the heart, but he had two separate conditions,” said Dr. Debbie Rinde-Hoffman, a Tampa General Hospital cardiologist and medical director of advanced heart failure. Rinde-Hoffman oversaw Gant’s pre-surgery care.
    “The thing I’m looking forward to the most is playing with my grandkids and playing basketball,” Gant said. “Those are the things I love to do most, and I haven’t been able to do them for such a long time. Before my surgery, I was always just so tired. I’m so excited to be able to do them again.” He spoke through an interpreter, as he is deaf.
    Tampa General is now one of four hospitals in Florida that have performed a combined heart and liver transplant. The academic medical center is among the nation’s leaders in the number of transplants performed in 2020, the hospital’s second consecutive record-setting year. Tampa General has performed a total of more than 11,000 transplants since the program began in 1974.
    “A surgery of this type requires precise planning, coordination and teamwork across multiple medical disciplines,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital. “It’s a real-life demonstration of our team’s commitment to innovation and safety.”
    “Each organ transplant is a highly specialized process all its own. Because of this, combined organ transplant surgeries require a high degree of collaboration. Our multi-disciplinary team met several times to plan for all aspects of the surgery, from pre-surgery care to Mr. Gant’s recovery,” said Dr. Kiran Dhanireddy, executive director of the Tampa General Hospital Transplant Institute. Dhanireddy performed the liver transplant portion of the combined surgery, along with Dr. Vijay Subramanian, liver transplant surgeon, Tampa General Hospital.
    The cardiothoracic surgeon who performed the heart transplant portion of the combined surgery was Dr. Lucian Lozonschi, professor and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic and Transplantation Surgery in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and associate director of the USF Health and Tampa General Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute. 
    “Combined heart-liver transplants are rare and offered at a few selected programs. We are happy to provide this option to this unique type of patient,” Lozonschi said. “Mr. Gant’s heart condition was so severe that he could not be considered a candidate for liver transplant surgery unless his heart condition was addressed. His liver condition was also serious and he really needed to have both surgeries at the same time.”
    Gant’s surgery took approximately 12 hours. His recovery at Tampa General is expected to take about two to four weeks.
    “Although he had two serious conditions, Mr. Gant has a very positive outlook and that will play a big role in his recovery,” said Dr. Benjamin Mackie, medical director of heart transplantation at Tampa General.
    “Communication is key for the recovery of all transplant patients,” said Dr. Mackie. “In addition to all the clinical specialties involved, Mr. Gant’s sign language interpreters are a critical part of his care and recovery,” said Dr. Mackie.
    To increase the communication between himself and his cardiologists, Gant teaches words in American Sign Language to Dr. Rinde-Hoffman during bedside care routines. “I really enjoy communicating with him in this way,” she said. “He teaches me two to three words every time I see him.”
    Another important part of Mr. Gant’s care is the lifesaving gift of organ donation. "LifeLink of Florida works with hospital partners, donors and their families to recover lifesaving organs for transplant on the Florida West Coast. Currently, 107,000 people in the United States and 5,000 individuals in Florida are on the national transplant waiting list. One donor has the potential to save eight lives through organ donation and can enhance up to 75 lives through tissue donation. Anyone regardless of their age or health condition can register to save lives at Donate Life Florida or when renewing or obtaining a driver's license," said Liz Lehr senior vice president/executive director, LifeLink of Florida. 

    To learn more about the Tampa General Transplant Institute, please visit:  https://www.tgh.org/services/transplant.