UK HealthCare celebrates 25 years of live-saving heart transplants.

Celebrating 25 years of heart transplants at UK HealthCare

On April 2, 1991, Dr. Michael Sekela performed the first heart transplant in the University of Kentucky’s history.

It’s been 25 years since that first operation, and we’ve been saving lives through heart transplantation ever since. In fact, we now do more than 40 heart transplants each year, and in 2015 we set a single-year record for the most heart transplants at one hospital in Kentucky.

While much has changed since Dr. Sekela’s first transplant, one thing has stayed the same: our commitment to providing the best care for patients with heart failure.

That commitment was on display earlier this week when patients gathered with staff and doctors from the UK Gill Heart Institute and the UK Transplant Center to celebrate 25 years of heart transplants at UK HealthCare.

“It’s so rewarding to see how our program has evolved,” Sekela said at the celebration. “We want to take care of our patients, and that’s always been the driving force of our program.”

Jim Holdiness, who received his new heart on Aug. 24, 1995, said UK HealthCare gave him a second chance at life.

“If hadn’t been for those people, in this hospital, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

Daniel Garcia received his new heart just earlier this year, but echoed Holdiness’ sentiment.

“I haven’t had this much energy in 25 years,” he said. “When I think of UK, I think of excellence and compassion. Everyone had my well-being in mind.”

Check out some photos from the event below and visit the UK HealthCare Facebook page for a full gallery.


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