Skip to Main Content

KentuckyOne Health Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Kentucky’s First Heart Transplant KentuckyOne Health Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Kentucky’s First Heart Transplant - Archived



Louisville, Ky. (August 20, 2014)—KentuckyOne Health officials today were joined by surgeons, heart patients, and others to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Kentucky’s first heart transplant, performed on August 24, 1984 at Jewish Hospital.


Forty-year-old Alice Brandenburg was faced with cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes the heart muscle too weak to pump adequate blood, and when a heart became available, she made history as the first patient to undergo such a procedure in the state of Kentucky. Laman Gray, Jr., M.D., head of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at University of Louisville Hospital at the time performed the successful surgery. He is now the executive and medical director at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute.


“Back in the 80s, there really was no treatment for end stage heart failure, no medicine, nothing. People were incredibly sick and likely to die within one year,” said Dr. Gray. “When we started this (heart transplant) program, this was one of the first ways to treat those people and give them back a normal life. It’s wonderful to be able to do something to help people and make their lives better.”


“The work that we’ve been doing here is very important,” said Mark Slaughter, M.D., executive director of cardiovascular services for the KentuckyOne Health Louisville market, chair of the department of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the University of Louisville. “Not only was this first heart transplant a significant contribution to the field of heart care, but since then, we’ve developed a legacy of excellent care and innovation and I’m honored to be a part of it.”


Since then, many more life-saving transplants have been performed at KentuckyOne Health hospitals, including the world’s first successful heart transplant following the use of a thoratec ventricular assist device (1985), Kentucky’s first heart/lung transplant (1988), the world’s first minimally invasive saphenous vein harvest (1996) and world’s first and second AbioCor® Implantable Replacement Heart (2001), among many others.


Additionally, Jewish Hospital was the state’s first hospital to be designated as a federally approved heart, liver, lung and kidney transplant center.


“The history of excellence in heart and transplant care at Jewish Hospital is truly remarkable, making the facility a vital resource to patients in need of innovative, life-saving treatments,” said Joseph Gilene, president, Jewish Hospital Medical Campus and KentuckyOne Health market leader.


“I’m in the best health I’ve been in 20 years. I can do all the things I want to do and I am grateful to do them,” said Bob Valvano, sports personality who received heart care at Jewish Hospital after suffering a heart attack. “The whole experience should have been tremendously traumatic, and the team at Jewish Hospital made it remarkably easy. They got me back to doing everything I ever wanted to do.”


Jewish Hospital was ranked as one of the best hospitals for 2014-15 for cardiology and heart surgery again by U.S. News & World Report. Jewish Hospital is the only hospital in Kentucky to be recognized for cardiology and heart surgery. In addition, Jewish Hospital received the American College of Cardiology’s “Get With the Guidelines” Silver Performance Achievement Award for 2014.  Jewish Hospital is one of only 139 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor.


There are currently more than 120,000 people waiting on the organ transplant list for a donor match and roughly 150 people are added to the list each day. Sadly, an average of 18 patients die every day waiting for a transplant because the organ they needed was not donated in time. A single donor can save or heal the lives of up to 50 people. To join the donor registry in Kentucky, visit Kentucky Organ Donor Registry at


About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health was formed when two major Kentucky health care organizations came together in early 2012. KentuckyOne Health combines the Jewish and Catholic heritages of the two former systems – Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System. In late 2012, the organization formed a partnership with the University of Louisville Hospital | James Graham Brown Cancer Center.  The nonprofit system is committed to improving the health of Kentuckians by integrating medical research, education, technology and health care services wherever patients receive care. KentuckyOne Health has more than 200 locations including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies across the state of Kentucky and southern Indiana.









Publish date: 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014