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Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Coloradoan receives new heart for Valentine's Day

Heart-transplant recipient Brad Keefer (right) with his wife, Stephanie Eigenberg

Brad Keefer was born with an abnormal heart valve. That didn’t stop him from becoming a husband, father, and even a young grandfather, but by his mid-40’s, he was struggling with increasingly poor health and was told he needed a heart transplant. He wrestled with feelings of guilt—"Why do I deserve it and not somebody else?"—but his family encouraged him to get on the transplant list.

This February, a donor heart became available, and Brad received a transplant at University of Colorado Hospital.

"My life just started over last week—that's the way I look at it," Keefer says. "So I'm going to do everything in my power to keep it going and honor the person that gave me this."

According to Dr. Muhammad Aftab, patients who receive heart transplants today can look forward to longer life and better health thanks to medical advances of recent years. "Currently our patients have really extraordinary life expectancy and quality of life after heart transplantation," he says. "And we are talking in terms of decades."

Watch the video on the Denver 7 ABC news site.

(February 2018)

Biomedical team works to develop living heart patch

Dr. James Jaggers

Dr. James Jaggers describes the new project to a reporter for Science Nation.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are developing exciting new technologies to help infants with congenital heart defects.

Currently, many babies born with complex heart defects will require multiple surgeries across their lifetime. Surgeons are able to implant patches to assist the babies’ heart function, but these patches have many limitations. Being made of synthetic materials, they cannot grow as a child’s heart increases in size. Also, they do not contract or conduct electrical activity as normal heart tissue does.

A new project headed by bioengineer Jeff Jacot, PhD, aims to use the infant’s own tissues, harvested in utero, to generate a biological heart patch that becomes a working part of the baby’s heart and grows right along with the child, obviating the need for further surgeries. Dr. Jacot and surgeon James Jaggers, MD, explain the concepts in this video for the National Science Foundation.

(October 2017)

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