Heart Transplant Program

Specialists from University of Minnesota Physicians Heart offer the most recent and promising array of treatment options available to people living with advanced heart failure, including heart transplant.

As leaders in innovative research, we bring the science and art of medicine together to provide the best possible care for our patients. Our 33-year-old program is one of the longest-running heart transplant centers in the world. And our survival rates are well above the national average.

Here’s why you can expect the best results from University of Minnesota Physicians Heart:

  • Our experience and innovation makes it possible for most patients to leave University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, less than two weeks after heart transplant. 
  • 80 percent of heart transplant patients at our center survive five years or more. Our three-, five-, 10-year survival rates are well above the national average. 
  • The nation's longest-living heart transplant recipient benefited from our innovative care for more than 25 years after surgery. 
  • Our surgeons performed the first heart transplant in Minnesota in 1978 and the state's first heart/lung transplant in 1986. 
  • Our program is one of a few in the country that routinely accept older heart donors and older high-risk recipients. This program gives some patients a second chance at  life that they would not otherwise have.
  • We are a recognized pioneer in mechanical circulatory support bridge to transplant clinical trials. We are one of a handful of sites in the nation approved to train surgeons in transplant state-of-the-art technologies that include some names you might recognize: Thoratec HeartMate II, Ventracor VentrAssist, HeartWare and Centra Mac. 
  • We are a national leader in implanting ventricular assist devices (VADs) performing about 50 VAD surgeries each year.
  • Currently we perform about 20-30 heart transplants annually. This places our program among the top 10 to15 percent in the nation.
  • Patients – For more information: 612-365-5000.
  • Physicians – Call our physician line for consultations or referrals: 612-365-6000.
Heart Transplant program is available at:


Heart transplant success rates

Survival rates for heart transplant patients are tracked nationally by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. To help you understand these rates, keep in mind that other centers may have higher success rates because they don’t accept highly challenging transplant cases. Patients who come to University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, for a heart transplant often are high-risk, very ill patients.

Adult heart
transplant patient survival rates


1 month
(January 2009 - June 2011)


1 year
(January 2009 - June 2011)


3 years
(July 2006 - December 2008)


University of Minnesota Medical Center,


For more information about survival statistics, go to Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) or ustransplant.org

Referring a patient

We take pride at the Transplant Center in our ability to evaluate patients for consideration of our heart failure and heart transplant program as quickly as the referring physician deems appropriate. For urgent situations, patients may be scheduled for an inpatient evaluation same day or in clinic within one week. For non-urgent referrals , we strive to schedule patients according to their availability and as clinically indicated.

A referral may be initiated as simply as having your office staff call 612-625-9922 or 800-478-5864 with pertinent demographic, diagnosis, and insurance information. The referring physician is always welcome to telephone the same number to request consultation information, or more urgently, to page the heart transplant attending physician on-call 24 hours a day via the operator at 612-273-3000.

The appropriate timing of referral for transplantation has become increasingly complicated as transplantation and LVADs have become more successful and standard therapies for treatment of heart failure.

Nationally, approximately 15 percent of patients on the waiting list for transplant die each year due to lack of donor availability. Most of the patients who die are originally listed when their disease is relatively well compensated.

As the time between listing and transplantation continues to increase, we recommend that patients be listed early in their disease process. The transplant center is willing to accept the responsibility of determining whether the patient requires listing for transplantation or close monitoring to list at a more appropriate time based on the current transplant climate and United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) requirements.

Becoming a patient

Our Heart Transplant Program offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to care for adults receiving a heart transplant. Having a physician refer you to our program will speed the referral process. However, patients interested in our program may also contact us directly. When you or your physician call us, our staff will:

  • Coordinate communication between you, your physician, the heart transplant health care team and other hospital departments.
  • Work with the hospital's financial services representatives and your insurance company to help you secure insurance coverage for your treatment.
  • Communicate with you and your physician about your medical condition and possible dates for evaluation and admission.

Staff members from the Heart Transplant Program are ready to help you and your family at each stage of the heart  transplant process. You can contact us directly. Call the Heart Transplant Program at: 1-800-478-5864.