There's no word yet when the heart and lung transplant programs at the University of Arizona Medical Center will re-open.
But UA officials today announced they have hired a new director of heart and lung transplant surgery. Both programs went on hiatus last year.
The new surgeon, Dr. Scott D. Lick, is scheduled to begin his job April 1. He's coming to the UA from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where he was professor of surgery and the director of Thoracic Organ Transplantation.
Lick has 20 years experience in cardiac surgery and heart and lung transplantation. He is also a researcher, and studies artificial lung development. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1987 and completed his internship and general surgery residency and cardiothoracic surgery residency at the UA.
As a resident he worked with Dr. Jack Copeland, former chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, who has been recognized for performing the world’s first successful bridge to heart transplant with a total artificial heart.
It has not yet been determined when the hospital will re-start its heart and lung transplant programs, but that is the ultimate goal, department of surgery spokeswoman Jo Marie Barkley said today.
The hospital's entire transplant program at the UA had been rebuilt by Dr. Rainer Gruessner, who was hired from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Under Gruessner's direction, the hospital offered both adult and pediatric kidney and liver transplants, as well as heart, lung, islet cell, intestine and pancreas transplants.
Gruessner was suspended in September during a dispute with the UA Health Network administration. The hospital has since performed significantly fewer transplants and has closed its islet cell and intestine transplant programs. The heart, lung, and pediatric kidney and liver transplant programs are currently inactive.