The fourth physician announced her departure Wednesday, leaving Oregon without a doctor who can perform heart transplants and a waitlist of an estimated 30 people.
The Portland hospital notified patients and staff this week that it would not evaluate new transplant candidates, accept donor hearts or perform any transplant surgeries for 14 days because three of the four cardiologists had left or would leave by the end of September. That was not enough to safely provide post-operative care for patients who receive hearts, said officials.
At the time, Chief Medical Officer for OHSU Healthcare Renee Edwards said that there would be one person left to follow up with patients who had received new hearts before the suspension was announced.
Now, that doctor will also leave. OHSU did not disclose why she is leaving.
OHSU is the only facility in the state that performs heart transplants. Patients will likely have to travel to Seattle or San Francisco to receive new hearts.
An OHSU spokeswoman said the hospital has started to help people transfer to other transplant centers, including the University of Washington.
Edwards said Monday that management will use the 14-day period to try to recruit new doctors to the heart transplant team. If the suspension lasts longer, she said patients will be notified.
Other hospitals that have taken this step took several months to several years to restart their programs.
OHSU performed 30 heart transplants in 2017, compared with 18 in 2016, according to federal data. There are 3,930 people awaiting new hearts on the national transplant list.
A patient's position on the list is based on how well he or she matches with a donor, how sick they are, and how many donors versus patients are in the area.
Kidney and liver transplants are not affected by the suspension.
-- Molly Harbarger