Local Connection: Heart Transplants

By: Rick Blangiardi

Hawaii's remote location makes it essential that island health services be the best. If you need specialized emergency surgery, it's possible the hospitals that might best serve you are two time zones away and might not be able to save you.

When John Koko of the Makaha Sons died at the age of 51, last week, he was awaiting a heart transplant. But Hawaii has been without a full-service transplant hospital since St. Francis closed last year.

Queen's has been stepping up, but it's not a question of simply announcing it and scrubbing in.

Queen's is doing liver transplants already, a kidney transplant in weeks to come, and pancreatic operations later this summer.

But it could take time to get approval as a heart transplant center when the state typically has fewer than half the minimum number required for certification.

We hope an exception is granted in view of our geographical isolation. We have very good hospitals and great doctors and we should be able to handle anything we need here in Hawaii.

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