One of the world’s foremost heart institutes is being built on the success of the heart transplant program.

July 02, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Edmonton, Canada - In 1985, Dr. Modry implemented Western Canada's first heart and lung transplantation program. Today, the Capital Health Authority’s Heart and Lung Transplantation Program is the largest and most successful in Canada, and one of the largest in North America. The success of the Heart and Lung Transplant Program set the stage for the implementation of the very successful Liver Transplantation Program, which facilitated the subsequent development of the renowned Islet Cell Transplant Program known as the Edmonton Protocol.

The longest survivors of the cardiac transplant program have received their new heart almost 20 years ago. “We’ve transplanted individuals from 12 hours of age to 79 years of age, including the oldest person in the world to have had a transplant. So, I think we have a record at both ends of the age spectrum … the youngest and the oldest” says Modry. He expects that as the Alberta Heart Institute’s reputation grows and its outcomes become better known, even more people will come to the Institute.

The Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute is a new centre of cardiac excellence dedicated to cardiology, cardiac surgery, transplants, diagnostic testing, research and education. The Alberta Heart Institute’s location is uniquely positioned to draw upon the interdisciplinary specialities of the Stollery Children Hospital, the University of Alberta Hospital, and a the new Alberta Cardiovascular Stroke Research Centre (ABACUS). The ABACUS will open later this year, leading to the opening of the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in 2007. The Alberta Heart Institute will serve the Edmonton region, Alberta, Western Canada, the Canadian North and many other regions as it is being built with an excess capacity in mind.

With $156 million from the Alberta government and more than $35 million in private donations raised through a capital campaign, the Institute will cut waiting lists for heart treatment and ensure access to leading edge technology. Dr. Modry emphasizes that this will eventually lead to new research discoveries and will take us into the tomorrow.

The Institute has a major focus on prevention of heart diseases and the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. “We believe that this concept will make the most dynamic heart institute in the world because we will be able to transfer our research in prevention, in diagnostic and in therapeutic immediately to clinical care” says Dr. Modry. “This will benefit patients as they will be exposed not only to leading edge and state of the art technologies, but will receive high degree of interdisciplinary clinical care.”

Dr. Modry suggests that pretty much everything can be transplanted, except “we’re not there with respect to brain, teeth, whole eyes… but specifically, skin, bones, joints and limbs could be and have been transplanted, even faces. Organs such as lungs, hearts, kidneys, liver, intestine, heart valves and many other organs can be transplanted. We’re pretty much recyclable.”

The mapping of the human genome has engendered a whole new field of research focused toward gene therapy and rebuilding hearts. Dr. Modry believes that at some point, we won’t need to place mechanical devices in the heart as or even doing heart transplant in the future … “maybe it’s just going to be a matter of gene therapy”.

It’s exciting to contemplate how this institute will no just foster research, education and clinical care, but will also be an economic engine for the region. It will attract a high degree of skills and employment, and as it has been build for excess capacity, the institute will be able to provide care for patients from Canada and other areas of the world.

"It's a team work building on the success of the Capital Health and the University of Alberta's cardiac programs” says Dr. Modry.

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