Heart Transplant Team

The multidisciplinary team at Emory's Heart Transplant Program includes:

Transplant Surgeon

The transplant surgeon will perform your heart transplant surgery and will be in charge of your care immediately following your surgery.

J. David Vega, MD

J. David Vega, MD
Surgical Director, Heart Transplantation and VAD Programs

Duc Nguyen, MD

Duc Nguyen, MD
Cardiac Surgeon, Heart Transplantation and VAD

Transplant Cardiologist

The cardiologist is the doctor who possesses specialized knowledge and skill in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions and will  manage your medical care before and after the transplant.

Andrew L. Smith, MD

Andrew L. Smith, MD
Cardiologist, Medical Director, Heart Failure,
Transplantation and VAD Programs

Wendy Book, MD

Wendy Book, MD
Director of Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center

Javed Butler, MD, MPH

Javed Butler, MD, MPH
Director, Heart Failure Research

Robert Cole, MD

Robert Cole, MD
Cardiologist, Heart Failure, Transplantation and VAD Therapy, CCU attending

Divya Gupta, MD

Divya Gupta, MD
Cardiologist, Heart Failure, Transplantation and VAD Therapy, CCU attending

Maan Jokhadar, MD

Maan Jokhadar, MD
Cardiologist, Heart Failure and Adult Congenital Heart Center

Sonjoy Raja Laskar, MD

Sonjoy Raja Laskar, MD
Cardiologist, Heart Failure and Transplantation, Medical Director of VAD Program

Jerre Lutz, MD

Jerre Lutz, MD
Cardiologist, Heart Failure and Transplantation

Michael McConnell, MD

Michael McConnell, MD
Co-Medical Director,
Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center

Anurag Sahu, MD

Anurag Sahu, MD
Cardiologist, Heart Failure, Adult Congenital Heart Center, CCU attending

Dan Sorescu, MD

Dan Sorescu, MD
Cardiologist, Heart Failure

Transplant Infectious Disease Physicians

Since transplant patients take medications to prevent the immune system from attacking their new organ, the transplant infectious disease physician provides consultation for infectious disease management in transplant recipients. They provide pre- and post-transplant vaccination and individual treatment plans for preventing infections.

G. Marshall Lyon, MD

G. Marshall Lyon, MD
Director, Transplant Infectious Diseases

Aneesh Mehta, MD

Aneesh Mehta, MD
Assistant Director, Transplant Infectious Diseases

Physician Assistant (PA) and Nurse Practitioners (NP)

The Physician Assistant (PA) and Nurse Practitioner (NP) are members of the transplant team who practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. The PA or NP may obtain your medical history, perform your physical exam and supervise your transplant evaluation. He or she will educate you about transplantation. After transplant, the PA or NP will follow your progress in the hospital as well as in the transplant clinic.

Transplant Coordinator

A transplant coordinator is a registered nurse specially trained to care for patients before and after transplantation. Transplant coordinators work in different stages of the transplant process. One coordinator will be responsible for obtaining the results of your evaluation. This coordinator will serve as your main contact from the time of your evaluation until the time of your transplant. Additional coordinators will follow your progress in the hospital and provide follow-up care at each clinic visit after you are discharged.

Heart Transplant Program Coordinator
Laura Jacobson, RN, MSN

Heart Transplant Coordinators
Ashley Bird, RN, MSN, CCTC
Virigina Bowen, RN, MSN
Neile Chesnut, RN, MSN, CCTC
Corby D'Amico, RN, MSN
Sara Drum, RN, MSN, MPH
Melissa Owen, RN, MSN, CCTC
Lisa Spaulding, RN, FNP

Social Worker

Social workers are available for evaluation and supportive counseling for you and your family throughout the phases of transplant. If you need information about local housing, fundraising, and other transplant resources, the transplant social worker can assist you.

Transplant Social Workers
Sharon Burford, LCSW, MBA, CCTSW
Celena Halladay, LMSW, ACM

Physical Therapist

A physical therapist may help pre-transplant patients understand what exercises are prescribed by the cardiologist. He or she is specially trained to help you regain your strength after surgery and may refer you to a rehabilitation program in the early weeks after transplant. Exercise is important to your recovery. It can reduce complications after transplant surgery, improve your endurance and help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Physical Therapist
Amelia Haselden, MMSc, PT


A psychiatrist will meet with you during the evaluation to obtain a general mental health history. He or she can identify personal or social situations that may affect the likelihood of a successful outcome after transplant. Psychiatric help is available for any developing needs or concerns.

Clinical Nutritionist

A clinical nutritionist will see you before and after your transplant to evaluate your diet and help you maintain a healthy weight. After your transplant you may have difficulty maintaining your weight and controlling your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The nutritionist will be available to see you regularly after your transplant to discuss these issues.

Transplant Dietitians
Anita Giannantonio, RD
Susan Chapman, RD


A pharmacist will begin working with you after your transplant. It is important for you to clearly understand your medications and how each affects your body. The transplant pharmacist, along with your transplant coordinator and nurses, will explain the actions, dosages and side effects of your medications. The pharmacist will be available to answer questions during your hospitalization and after transplant.


A chaplain is on call 24 hours a day to visit with you while you are at Emory University Hospital. The chaplain can help you and your family deal with the emotional and spiritual issues that can be associated with transplantation.

Staff Nurse

Staff nurses are responsible for monitoring your daily care in the hospital. They will teach you how to check your vital signs and identify any signs of infection. They will help you learn how and when to take your new transplant medications. Staff nurses play an important role in alerting the team to any potential problems.

Financial Coordinator

The financial coordinator will help you understand the cost of transplantation, explain your insurance benefits and assist you in identifying resources available to you.

Financial Coordinator
Kimmel Lawson

Organ Placement Program
The Emory Transplant Call Center team is specially trained to review offers for all organs that match with potential recipients at Emory University Hospital. This nursing team is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to review donor offers with the transplant surgeon on call. Together with numerous organ procurement organizations, this team of specially trained nurses is responsible for coordinating the transplant process from the time the initial offer is received through calling a patient in for their transplant. If and when a patient is offered a possible transplant, one of these coordinators will be in contact.

Organ Placement Program
Mimi Buenvenida, RN BSN CCTC
Megan Case, RN BSN
Michelle Edwards, PCC
Carolyn Johnson, RN BSN
Casey King, RN, BSN, CCTC
Robin Pastush, RN BSN
Additional Staff Members

Heart Failure Nurses, The Emory Clinic
Angela Murphy, RN, MN,  Program Manager
Andrea Hitchcock, RN, BSN
Jerilyn Steinberg, RN, BSN

Heart Failure Nurses, Emory University Hospital Midtown
Rita Mehlan, RN, NP, Program Coordinator
Nancy Meadows, RN, BSN
Jessica Poss, RN, BSN
Marva Woods, RN, BSN

Emory Adult Congential Heart Center
Angela Murphy, RN, MN, Program Manager
Teresa Lyle, RN, MN, CPNP
Precious Charleston, RN, BSN
Rachel Moore, RN, BSN
Tammy Jones, RN, BSN
Nancy McCabe, RN, BSN
Estella Moore, MSW

VAD Coordinators
Kris Wittersheim, RN, NP
Ann Pekarek, RN, NP

Research Nurses
Gail Snell, RN, BSN, CCRC
Jayne Thompson, RN
Noel Walker, RN
Staci Jennings, Research Assistant

Charlie Hoff

CNN interviews Emory Heart & Vascular Center patient, Charlie Hoff, after his heart transplant. Just a short time after his heart transplant, Charlie is gearing up for an Olympic style competition called the “Transplant Games.” Watch his amazing story!