OHSU celebrates 30th anniversary of first heart transplant in Oregon

OHSU has long been known for bringing cutting-edge care and medical firsts to Oregonians. Even as we chase after the medical breakthroughs of tomorrow we understand the importance of celebrating and learning from our past.

The first heart transplant in Oregon, performed by Dr. Albert Starr in 1985.
The first heart transplant in Oregon, performed by Dr. Albert Starr in 1985.

This December, our Heart Failure and Transplant Program at the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute celebrates the 30th anniversary of the first heart transplant in Oregon, done at OHSU by renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Albert Starr.

Since the program’s first in December 1985, OHSU has performed over 650 heart transplants and continues to this day to be the only heart transplant center in Oregon.

Our team has established a tradition of providing outstanding care to heart transplant patients with many living a remarkable 10-20 years after the procedure.

Don Shirilla
Don was among the first few in Oregon to receive a heart transplant from Dr. Starr.

Don Shirilla is a proud example of this tradition. Don was among the first few in Oregon to receive a heart transplant from Dr. Starr, more than 29 years ago.

“I had finished the Honolulu marathon just six months before I found out I needed a heart transplant. And I was able to run short races again after I recovered. I’m so grateful to Dr. Starr and the team at OHSU for a second chance at life and keeping me healthy to this day,” says Don.

Don’s transplant anniversaries bring him happy memories, as he reflects on how his transplant changed his outlook on life. It helped him build stronger relationships with family and friends.

“It taught us all to appreciate the good things we have.”


Take a look back at OHSU’s announcement of the first successful heart transplant in Oregon:

4 responses to “OHSU celebrates 30th anniversary of first heart transplant in Oregon

  1. Congrats to this impressively skilled team. Your passion and enthusiasm for your craft we are all thankful for.

  2. The prime impact of OHSU in cardiovascular field took place in the early 1960s when a synthetic valve was placed in the heart and shown to function better than the diseased one it replaced. Dr. Starr lead the historic first with his support teams spread all across many clinical and research departments alike. An entirely new field was thus created in the annals of medicine with subsequent profound effects.

  3. Dr. Starr, a needle mover in the field of cardiac disease. I was born in 61, Dr. Starr Performed the 1st of the 4 he would perform on me as I grew; unable to receive a aortic valve as a child, corrective surgeries would carry me til age 25 where he was able to implant the Starr Edwards stalastic aortic ball valve; 32 years ago; still working like a champ. Thank you Dr.Starr!!

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