LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jewish Hospital has canceled its plans to suspend its heart transplant program.
A news release that came Friday afternoon announced that the hospital is working with KentuckyOne Health and the University of Louisville in an effort to maintain the program.
"KentuckyOne Health is canceling a voluntary action to place its heart transplant program on long-term inactivation," the news release states. "The health care company had announced on July 18 that it would place the program on long-term inactivation but is now asking the United Network for Organ Sharing, the organization that manages the U.S. organ transplant system, to disregard that action."
Last week, University of Louisville trustees approved a plan for the university to purchase financially ailing Jewish Hospital. As a result, U of L Health will assume leadership over Jewish Hospital, including its Certificate of Need for the transplant program.
"U of L has assured us it is committed to the heart transplant program," Deborah Lee-Eddie, Interim CEO of the KentuckyOne Health Louisville Market, said in a statement. "As part of the transition planning U of L is working on strategies to increase volume for the heart transplant program."
"The heart transplant program is simply too important for our university, our community and the patients who are depending on this life-saving procedure," U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said in a statement. "We thank KentuckyOne for working with us to maintain the program. We are taking steps to shore up our efforts, and very soon we will have a plan in place to ensure the viability of the program for the future."
The move comes as a relief for local patients and their families, both past and present.
"I was angry, because I didn't know how it got to the point where it had to even consider closing," said Annie Haigler, whose mother received a heart transplant from Jewish Hospital. "I understand the politics, and I understand the money issue, but that program has meant so much to so many people."
Haigler said the new heart extended her mom's life by nearly two decades.
"She was on her feet and healthy those 17 years," Haigler said. "Not an invalid, not short of breath, not walking with an oxygen tank, never. She had 17 active years as if nothing was ever wrong with her."
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