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CHICAGO — The University of Chicago Medicine’s heart transplant program has been named the high-performing in the U.S.

Only 14 of 143 heart transplant programs in the U.S. earned a five-star rating. Of that group, the program had the best one-year survival ratio, the best transplant rate and the shortest time-to-transplant for patients waiting to receive a new heart, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

“We go out of the way in trying to find donor hearts,” said Dr. Valluvan Jeevanadam.

SRTR complied data over a rolling three-year time period. Officials said the program has a 100% survival rating in the first year following a heart transplant.

Staff said it also leads the nation in the proportion of African American heart transplant recipients.

“We are very proud of that because we are in the South Side of Chicago. And we are able to deliver this care to patients who are perceived to have been underprivileged when it comes to healthcare,” said Dr. Jeevanadam. “But here it’s the reverse. They’re sitting getting transplants by the best program in the country.”

U.S. Rep Bobby Rush knows first-hand what it feels like for families going through a transplant.

“Personal testimony. Not something I read, heard. It’s something that I experienced as a caretaker,” Rush said. “Caregiver for my late wife.”

Staff said they are constantly working on ways to education the public about heart health and disease prevention.