Reporting Maggie Newland
MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – It’s been 25 years since the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital surgeons made the first successful heart transplant.
The patient, then 27-year-old Mark Frye, is now 52-years-old has had a second transplant and is now living and working in South Florida.
“At the time, I had two infant sons; they were just two-years-old didn’t know if I was gonna see them turn three,” Frye said. “Now, they’re 28 and 29-years-old. I’m very, very thankful.”
He returned Wednesday and met up with the surviving doctors and staffers who gave him a new heart 25 years ago.
The doctor who headed up the original procedure, Dr. Hooshang Bolooki, has since passed away. Dr. Bolooki’s family met with Frye Wednesday to celebrate the accomplishment.
Also in attendance was Dr. Eduardo de Marchena, who assisted in the procedure and is now the associate dean of international medicine.
“We prepared for the transplant very intensely for a few months and we had it all 100 times, but the passion and the emotion of its just exhilarating.”
For Mark, he wasn’t concerned about being the first transplant patient, but was still nervous.
“I was more concerned about having a transplant than being the first here,” Frye said. “I wasn’t nervous about that.”
Dr. Marchena said it was Dr. Bolooki’s leadership that helped make the process a ringing success.
“I can still remember very well the emotion that there was with that transplant,” said Dr. Marchena. “The way we felt for Mark; how we wanted that perfection. And Dr. Bolooki, who was our mentor and our leader; his coolness just made it very possible.”
For Mark, the success of the first and second transplant’s he’s had gives him hope for the future.
“I’m just hoping to have another 25 years,” Mark said.
Dr. Si Pham, who is now the chief of the Division of Heart and Lung Transplantation, was also at the reunion.
The heart transplant program at the hospital was recently recognized by HealthGrades with the Heart Transplant Excellence Award.