Baptist Health Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Performing Arkansas’ First Heart Transplant

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – This Sunday, Nov. 10, marks 30 years since Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock performed the first heart transplant in Arkansas. In the years since, Baptist Health has continued to provide unmatched treatment and life-saving care at Baptist Health Heart Failure and Transplant Institute.

On Thursday, Baptist Health hosted a 30th anniversary luncheon on the Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock campus to honor and recognize heart transplant recipients over the past three decades.

“History in the making,” Baptist Health called the first transplant in November 1989. Not only was medical history being made in Arkansas, but the patient, Mary E. Wilson of Jacksonville, would receive a second chance at life. Wilson had suffered from severe cardiomyopathy, and her heart muscle was failing and could not pump blood efficiently. Without the heart transplant, her prognosis for survival stood at less than a year.

Since then, more than 289 heart transplants have been performed at Baptist Health. Baptist Health continued its long history of heart milestones in 1999 when it introduced left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) to the state and in 2017 when Arkansas’ first Total Artificial Heart was implanted in a patient.

The Baptist Health Heart Transplant Program is part of the Baptist Health Heart Failure and Transplant Institute. Based on the Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock campus, the program provides a central location for patients who have had an organ transplant or are awaiting a transplant to be evaluated in the most timely and comfortable manner.

Baptist Health has the only comprehensive heart failure management program in Arkansas that can offer patients Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), LVAD, Total Artificial Heart and heart transplant. The Institute is also one of the most comprehensive heart transplant centers in the country, earning recognition by Blue Cross Blue Shield as a Blue Distinction Center for adult heart transplants.

Baptist Health also actively participates in heart failure clinical trials, advancing the system’s collective knowledge about beneficial therapies.

Baptist Health is Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization with more than 200 points of access that include 11 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community and over 100 primary and specialty care clinics in Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. The system additionally offers a college with studies in nursing and allied health; a graduate residency program; and access to virtual care anytime, anywhere. Baptist Health, as the largest not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, provides care to patients wherever they are through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.