Just one month after receiving final regulatory approval to perform heart transplants, NYU Langone’s Transplant Institute reached a historic, first-ever milestone when it replaced the heart of a woman from Brooklyn whose organ was irreversibly damaged as a result of treatment for breast cancer.
The surgery on Sofya Tokarev, 62, took place on Friday, January 5, just weeks after NYU Langone Health received a final green light to proceed with heart transplants from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the independent, nonprofit organization contracted by the federal government to coordinate organ transplantation across the country.
NYU Langone announced last fall its intention to launch a heart transplant program to further complement its vast network of transplant services, and recruited world-renowned heart transplant expert Nader Moazami, MD, from Cleveland Clinic to lead the new service.
Tokarev’s heart condition, which had initially been diagnosed in 2016, deteriorated to the point that she was transferred to NYU Langone’s Tisch Hospital and listed on the national organ registry. On the morning of January 5, a match was identified by UNOS—and Kazuhiro Hisamoto, MD, clinical instructor of cardiothoracic surgery, went to Massachusetts to procure the organ. Later that evening, Dr. Moazami and Deane Smith, MD, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery, performed the operation and gave Tokarev her new heart—and a new lease on life.
“On behalf of the Transplant Institute, and the heart transplant team, I want to thank everyone involved in this exciting chapter in the history of NYU Langone Health,” says Dr. Moazami. “Our first heart transplant marks an important step in building a patient-centered program focused on the highest quality outcomes.”
What Led to the Patient’s Heart Transplant
Tokarev underwent treatment 11 years ago for advanced stage breast cancer. The treatment cured her cancer—but it also weakened her heart. As time passed, she developed fatigue, chest pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath. She began treatment for heart failure under the care of Alex Reyentovich, MD, associate professor of medicine and medical director of the Heart Transplant and Ventricular Assist Device Program at NYU Langone Levit Medical, one of NYU Langone’s ambulatory care sites in Brooklyn.
“With NYU Langone Health’s commitment to providing premier medical services where our patients live and work, we treat heart failure and offer pre- and postsurgical care at six outpatient clinics in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island,” Dr. Reyentovich says. “Being part of NYU Langone gave Ms. Tokarev access to our heart transplant team right in her neighborhood.”
Just a few days after surgery, Tokarev says: “I feel amazing with my new heart. I know that it was meant for me.” She adds, “I am beyond grateful for the care Dr. Moazami and Dr. Reyentovich provided me and my family. They gave me my life back.”
To learn more about the heart transplant program or to schedule an appointment, please call 833-34-HEART (833-344-3278).