Stockholm's Karolinska Loses Right to Perform Heart Transplants

Updated 8:30 PM

After months of discussion, a special health care commission at the National Board of Health and Welfare decided on Wednesday to concentrate this country's heart transplants to just two hospitals, Skåne University Hospital in Lund and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg. The third hospital that had applied for a transplant license, Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, will no longer be allowed to do heart transplants as of July 1.

Jan Hultman, head of Karolinska's thoracic clinic, called the decision "idiotic" and "absurd."

Speaking with Swedish Radio News earlier in the day, he emphasized that the Stockholm hospital has a patient base of nearly half of Sweden's nine million inhabitants, and says that closing Karolinska "could have dramatic effects" on the care of heart patients in this country.

But Lars-Erik Holm, director of the National Health Care Commission, wrote in a press release that the two hospitals in Lund and Gothenburg "are those hospitals that have the best conditions to perform heart transplants of the three that applied."

According to the commission's statement, the decision was made after a careful assessment of patient volumes, organizational structures, and research activities at the three different hospitals, coupled with their geographical locations.

The transplantation license awarded to Skåne University Hospital and Sahlgrenska Hospital will be valid until June 30, 2015, at which point it will have to be renewed.