Heart Transplant Patient Beats Odds, Awards Hospital with Honor
Apr 28, 2023
Gary Zavoral
Heart team members unfurl banner with patient Mick Doughty

When Mick Doughty was put on the heart transplant list in 1994 at age 44, Sutter pioneering heart surgeon Dr. Paul Kelly said a new heart would extend Mick’s life by 10 years … 20 years at the most.

“I told Dr. Kelly, ‘Oh, I’ve got to beat that,’ ” Doughty says with a smile.

It’s now been nearly 30 years since his transplant, and Doughty credits his longevity to the incredible care he’s received at Sutter Medical Center, close to his home in Sacramento.

Man speaking at podium with other many looking at him.

Mick Doughty credits his longevity both before and after his heart transplant to the world-class care he received at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.

Doughty’s story is representative of why Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento achieved the heralded Comprehensive Cardiac Center certification from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association. It joins Stanford Medical Center, Sutter Medical Center’s partner with its pediatric heart surgery program, as the only two certified Comprehensive Cardiac Centers in the Western United States, and two of only 16 total in the nation.

The Comprehensive Cardiac Center certification is the highest Joint Commission award in its Advanced Cardiac Certification program and is for hospitals with robust cardiac care services that “deliver superior quality of care across the cardiac continuum” in order to provide “world-class, patient-centric service,” The Joint Commission website states.

Who best to present the Central Valley’s venerable heart program with the award than Doughty himself? During a celebratory event, Doughty thanked Sutter’s care teams for saving his life and for the continuing care he receives.

Watch Mick’s story in this video: “Longevity of Heart Transplant Patient More Than Irish Luck”

When asked what 29 more years of life have given him, Doughty started to list off a number of family and professional events, including his 50th wedding anniversary, his children’s graduations, his son’s wedding, being named “Sacramento’s Financial Planner of the Year.” Then he paused and said, “You know what, I think it’s the day-to-day, waking up every morning, living life – that is as important as all the milestones.”

Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento has the most comprehensive heart care program in the greater Central Valley and has the only heart transplant program in Northern California outside the Bay Area. Its specialized heart care services and programs include:

CEO, patient and doc with heart certificate.

Mick Doughty is flanked by Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento CEO Rachael McKinney, who is holding the award, and Dr. David Roberts, medical director of the Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute.

Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, which is celebrating its centennial this year, was a pioneer in cardiac services, beginning in 1957. It is where most of the cardiac firsts in the greater Central Valley region occurred. These include the first successful open-heart surgery, the first pediatric open-heart surgery, the first heart transplant, the first interventional vascular program, first pediatric heart catheterization, and many more.

The Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute, which is headquartered at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, and includes hospitals and care centers throughout Sutter’s Valley Area, continues to pioneer advances in cardiac care. It is trusted by hospitals throughout Northern California, southern Oregon and western Nevada to care for their most complex cardiac cases. The Institute is a longtime partner of the American Heart Association’s Go Red campaign, which advocates for women’s heart health.

“We congratulate Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento for this outstanding achievement,” says Nancy Brown, the American Heart Association’s CEO. “This certification reflects its commitment to providing the highest quality of care for cardiac patients.”

Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento leaders credit the entire staff for achieving this award.

“Our cardiovascular physicians, specially trained nurses and clinical staff work on a daily basis with unrivaled skill, competence, professionalism and pure dedication to ensure every cardiovascular patient who walks through the doors of our hospital and clinincs receives care at the highest level,” said Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento CEO Rachael McKinney.

Added Dr. David Roberts, medical director of the Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute: “Patients don’t need to travel outside the area to receive comprehensive, world-class cardiac care. It is right here in their own backyard.”

Now that Doughty who was born in Ireland and leads trips to his native homeland, has beaten the odds his original heart surgeon gave him, he has his sights on another record. With the average life expectancy in the United States with a new heart being just over nine years, Mick has already tripled that figure. The world record is 34 years right now, and Mick plans to surpass that and make it into the Guinness World Book of Records.

“Did someone say ‘Guinness Book of Records’?” Mick asked. “When I make it, I’ll celebrate with a wee bit pint of Guinness.” And, his heart doctors approve … as long as it’s just “a wee bit pint.”

Heart team with banner for certification.

Members of Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento’s cardiac care teams pose behind a banner celebrating the Comprehensive Cardiac Center certification.

The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. For more information, please visit The Joint Commission website. Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento is part of the Northern California, not-for-profit Sutter Health system and has been located in midtown Sacramento for 100 years. For more on Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento’s cardiovascular program, please visit the Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento heart services website.

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