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Aurora St. Luke's celebrates 50th anniversary of the first heart transplant in the Midwest

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Aurora is celebrating a milestone in the health industry.

Wednesday marked 50 years since the first heart transplant was performed in the Midwest.

The first heart transplant in the world happened in 1967. 

Aurora St. Luke's in Milwaukee performed the first one in the Midwest just nine months later.

Following a moratorium on transplants, St. Luke's re-opened their program in 1984.

Since then, they've performed 924 transplants.

"It's taking a patient who is on death's door or dying of heart failure, who thinks or has been told that they don't have any other options, and giving them options. What you want to provide for patients is options," said Dr. Frank Downey with Aurora St. Luke's.

Doctor Downey has been involved in over 360 heart transplants. He's been at St. Luke's for 700 of the 900 operations. 

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