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Northwell Health launches new heart transplant program on Long Island

LONG ISLAND — There are thousands of people in the New York area who would benefit from a heart transplant, but doctors say there are simply not enough hearts to go around.

Now, there’s a new program being launched on Long Island by Northwell Health to help patients who need a new heart.

58-year-old Renee Norton has been waiting for a new heart for 15 months.

Nearly 20 years ago, he suffered his first heart attack. After that, he’s had three more heart attacks that doctors have tried to repair.

After his last one, doctors performed open-heart surgery to implant an artery assistance device on Renee’s heart and put him on the transplant list.

Norton has the pump attached to him the whole day, and at night, he has to hook them up while he’s in bed.

Several factors go into who gets a heart, including who needs it most and matching blood types and geography.

“Of all the organs that we transplant the heart is the one that’s most sensitive to time outside the body,” said Dr. Brian Lima, Director of heart transplant surgery in Northwell Health.

If a patient on the transplant list is lucky enough to be a recipient, it could add years to their lives.

Dr. Lima hopes to build up an already successful program at North Shore to make it a world-class program. He says a lot is on the horizon when it comes to cardiac medicine.

“Heart pumps are going to continue to get smaller, sleeker, completely wireless,” Dr. Lima said.

For Norton and his wife, they’re hoping he’s one of the top people on the list.