First kidney-heart transplant in St. Louis

Reprinted from Innovate magazine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Fall 2010

Washington University surgeons performed the first combined heart-kidney transplant at Barnes-Jewish Hospital June 2 and 3 on Jonathan Sadowski, 20, of O'Fallon, Mo. The success of the procedure opens the door for other patients with both heart and kidney failure to have transplants, according to Gene Ridolfi, RN, Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center director. Barnes-Jewish is currently the only hopsital in the St. Louis region performing heart transplants.

The transplant was performed in two stages, with Washington University heart transplant surgeon I-Wen Wang, MD, performing the five-hour heart transplant. Sadowski was then taken to the cardiothoracic surgery intensive care unit to be stabilized and his new heart monitored before being wheeled back to the operating room where Washington University transplant surgeon Jason Wellen, MD, implanted the donor kidney in a three-hour operation.

The heart transplant was Sakowski's second. He was born with left hypoplastic heart syndrome and received his first heart transplant when he was less than two months old. About a year ago, doctors found that he had developed transplant coronary artery disease, and anti-rejection medication plus his failing heart had caused irreversible damage to his kidneys.

While the failure of two organs might have automatically ruled him out as a candidate for transplant a couple of years ago, physicians now look at multi-organ transplants as an option for patients such as Sadowski — who is young, otherwise healthy and likely to benefit long term from the procedure.

"We're lucky here at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish to have the resources and the multi-disciplinary teams to be able to do procedures such as this and then provide the long-term transplant care that results in outstanding outcomes," Wang says.