Papillion man receives heart transplant

A 34-year-old Papillion, Neb., man is doing well after receiving a life-saving heart transplant at The Nebraska Medical Center. The surgery, which took place Sept. 29, is the first heart transplant at The Nebraska Medical Center since 1999. For Mark Maeder and his family, the transplant is a gift of life.

"The donor heart was a perfect match for Mark," said Mohammad Quader, M.D., lead transplant surgeon at The Nebraska Medical Center and associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at UNMC. "We saw an immediate improvement in him. Within hours of the transplant, he was sitting up and talking and wanting to eat - all of which are very good signs."

Maeder's heart had become very weak from cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that can be passed from generation to generation or caused by heart disease. His condition deteriorated quickly and by the time of transplant, he had lost about 90 percent of his heart function.

Maeder was listed for transplant on Aug. 31. He is the second person to be listed for a heart transplant since the cardio-thoracic surgery program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center reorganized under the leadership of Kim Duncan, M.D., professor and chief of cardiothoracic surgery at UNMC.

"I am very pleased with our team's performance," Dr. Duncan said. "The feeling of 'contained excitement' and 'coming together' that I witnessed in the OR during the transplant was absolutely incredible."

The transplant team's immediate goal is to get Medicare certification, which requires 12 transplant cases in a 12-month period with survival rates of 73 percent for one year and 65 percent for two years. Eventually the team hopes to add pediatric heart transplantation to the program.