Vanderbilt surgeons perform historic double transplant on man 70+

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – For a long time, doctors followed stringent guidelines over who can receive vital organ transplants.

“We used to have these hard and fast rules about age,” said Dr. Ashish Shah, a cardiac surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

But Rex and Nancy Parton are changing that dialogue.

Dr. Ashish Shah (Photo: WKRN)
Dr. Ashish Shah (Photo: WKRN)

Multiple doctors told them that because Rex is over the age of 70, typically the cut-off age for a heart or kidney transplant, there was nothing more they could do for him.

The Partons persuaded Dr. Shah and a team of his colleges at Vanderbilt to do something they had never done before.

Doctors said his is the first time in the history of the medical center that doctors performed a double transplant surgery on a patient over the age of 70.

“There was a little bit of convincing. The greatest advocate is Mr. Parton himself. I think when you meet him and sort of think about him as an individual you sort of say, ‘This is the right person to do this on,’” said Dr. Shah.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

Parton’s procedure was very high risk. He knew going in he might not survive. However, his heart and kidney transplant surgery was a success.

On Monday, he was back at the hospital for a check-up.

“We get up at 7 a.m. and go to bed at 9 p.m. My heart wants to keep going but my old body says let’s wait a little while.,” Parton said with a laugh.

“It’s a big deal. It’s a big deal because now we are offering an advance therapy that we would never have offered to a group of patients that are increasing in numbers,” said Dr. Shah.

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