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Your support has helped us perform 1,000 heart transplants

The surgical team at Aurora St. Luke’s performs its 1,000th heart transplant.

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee recently hit a significant milestone – its 1,000th heart transplant.

This 1000th transplant saved the life of Mary Zimmerman, 67, of Oak Creek. After 14 months on the waitlist, Mary’s prayers were finally answered the week of Thanksgiving 2020.

“They said they had a heart and then my mind shut down,” Mary said. “The 29th, which was my son’s 40th birthday is when I had the transplant. My son’s name is Max — and I’m naming my new heart Maxine.”

Aurora St. Luke’s is well known for its cardiology team and often listed as one of the top programs in the Midwest. They performed the first heart transplant in the Midwest in 1968, just a few months after the first heart transplant in the world. The cardiology and heart surgery specialty program is consistently ranked in the top 50 programs in the country.

“The results we get are outstanding and that’s one of the reasons we have reached our milestone,” said Dr. John Crouch, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Aurora St. Luke’s.

While many transplant centers closed due to COVID-19, St. Luke’s did not. Screening, masking, enhanced cleaning and social distancing have kept patients and team members safe. Aurora St. Luke’s was able to perform 50 heart transplants in 2020, the most of any Midwest hospital.

“We felt it was necessary to continue this process for our patients. It wasn’t fair if we stopped because if there was an organ available, the patient would not be in the queue to receive it,” Dr. Crouch said.

Mary is recovering and feeling well. She is now able to walk without losing her breath. After receiving the gift of life, she hopes her survival story will touch other people’s hearts and encourage them to become organ donors.

We are so grateful to donors of Aurora St. Luke’s and cardiovascular funds that have helped to enhance this care and foster innovation for decades.

How you can help

You can support innovative programs like these that make a difference in the lives of patients like Mary. Please consider making a gift today.