Our Program

Led by Vaughn A. Starnes, MD, a world-recognized leader and innovator in heart, heart-lung, lung transplantation and cardiothoracic surgery, the USC cardiopulmonary transplant team is composed of experts in their respective fields of cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, pulmonary medicine, immunology, critical care medicine, cystic fibrosis, immunosuppression and rehabilitation.

The USC Heart Transplant Program is Medicare-certified for heart transplantation and provides a full range of reparative operations for acquired heart disease such as coronary artery disease and arrhythmia.

We are one of only a few centers on the West Coast that offers a “bridge” to transplantation utilizing the left ventricular assist device (LVAD). We are also the diagnostic center for the electrical left ventricular assist device, a mobile device that allows patients to safely wait for transplantation while in the comfort of their own home. We are also extremely pleased and proud of our survival outcomes, with more than 90 percent of our patients returning to their everyday lives.

Patients eligible for heart transplantation include patients with end-stage cardiac disease not treatable by conventional medical or surgical therapies. Most transplant patients are under the age of 70 and usually carry the diagnosis of cardiomyopathy or coronary disease.

Restrictions to transplantation include:

  • Severe obesity
  • Active neoplastic disease
  • Systemic or untreatable local infection
  • Tobacco or drug dependency
  • Lack of adequate support systems
  • The inability to comply with a strict medical regimen

Our comprehensive program includes continual transplant team communication with patient/family regarding all aspects of patient’s medical care. Patients and families are also given general educational materials about what is expected after transplantation.

We place value on our relationship with the referring physician and are committed to excellent communication to foster high quality continuity of care.

USC’s heart transplant program is in Aetna’s Institutes of Excellence™ Network
USC’s adult heart transplant program participates with the Anthem Centers of Medical Excellence Transplant Program
OptumHealth Care Solutions has named Keck Hospital of USC a Center of Excellence for its adult heart transplant program