1,000th heart transplant performed at Aurora St. Luke's in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A celebration of history and health took place in Milwaukee Monday, Jan. 4.

Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center has now performed 1,000 heart transplants. We heard from the woman who received heart number 1,000.

"My son's name is Max and I'm naming my heart Maxine," said transplant recipient Mary Zimmerman. 

Zimmerman got her new heart on her son's birthday in November, after spending three years on a waiting list.

Aurora St. Luke's has been performing these operations since 1968, when doctors performed the first heart transplant in the Midwest.

The team continues to perform transplants despite the challenges posed by coronavirus.

"We could easily have done what most programs did, to say, hey, listen, this is not the right time to continue with these high-risk procedures. But we felt that patients who are very sick deserve to continue on to get lifesaving therapies."

Mary Zimmerman says she's doing well with her new heart. 

"I was kind of in shock when I found out that I was the one thousandth transplant recipient," she said. "But I'm very thankful."

She can now walk without losing her breath and get around without a wheelchair.

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