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OHSU patient speaks out after heart transplant program suspended

Oregon Health and Science University is suspending their services for their heart-transplant program for at least the next two weeks.

Posted: Aug 28, 2018 6:44 PM
Updated: Aug 30, 2018 11:17 AM

ALBANY, Ore. -- An Albany woman who needs a new heart soon is looking for answers after Oregon Health and Science University is suspending services for their heart-transplant program for at least the next two weeks.

Diana Howell reached out to KEZI 9 News very concerned with what the future would hold during the suspension. 

Howell says she has to be on oxygen at all times because of a serious heart condition. She was put on OHSU’s heart transplant list a little more than a year ago. She was told at the time she would need a new heart within 18 months. Howell said her concerns for her life continue to grow, especially now that the program has been suspended.

Because of the suspension, she's been taken off the heart transplant list.

"My life is depending on you (OHSU),” Howell said. “You need to fix this, you need to fix your program, you need to fix the issues that are causing the doctors to leave and you need to get your doctors back. Our lives depend on it. I don't know what else to say. People will die without it."

Howell said someone from OHSU called her Monday evening and told her they will try to transfer her to a hospital in Seattle, but said there are no guarantees she will get on their heart transplant list.

KEZI reached out to OHSU on the recent suspension. Tamara Hargens-Bradley, the Associate Director OHSU Strategic Communications sent a statement that said:

"The decision was made following the departure of one specialist and the planned departure of two others from the heart transplant program team," Associate Director of OHSU Strategic Communications Tamara Hargens-Bradley said in a statement. "The remainder of the program team will continue to work and actively care for patients. If a longer suspension of transplant services is needed, OHSU will immediately inform patients and the community."

The statement also said they have notified Network for Organ Sharing, the national organization that manages the organ donation and transplant system, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of its decision to temporarily suspend their heart transplant services.

OHSU staff also said they will continue to keep in touch with patients and will work on reactivating the program as soon as possible.

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