Health Care Heroes 2019 Physician finalists: Dr. Radha Gopalan and Dr. Robin Blackston

By Janet Perez – Contributing writerAug 22, 2019, 1:00pm EDT

Dr. Radha Gopalan

Director, Banner – University Medicine Heart Institute

Dr. Robin Blackstone

Bariatric surgeon, Banner Health

Dr. Radha Gopalan, director of the Advanced Heart Failure Center and associate program director of the Cardiology Fellowship Program at Banner – University Medicine Heart Institute in Phoenix, has co-developed a program that allows those once considered unfit for heart surgery to receive life-saving treatment.

Gopalan joined forces with Dr. Robin Blackstone to demonstrate how combining expertise results in the best patient care and outcomes. They developed the Bariatric Heart Failure Program to help complex heart failure patients become eligible for transplants.

Many high-risk heart failure patients are obese. Unfortunately, patients with a body-mass index over 35 are ineligible for a transplant until they lose weight. Because of their heart issues, these patients are considered too high risk to undergo bariatric surgery to help them lose enough weight. It can be a deadly Catch-22. The program helps patients break this seemingly impossible cycle.

The Bariatric Heart Failure Program evaluates each patient’s situation to determine if bariatric surgery is an option to prepare them and help them meet criteria for a heart transplant.

Using a unique team approach to provide weight-loss surgery for heart failure patients, physicians at Banner’s Heart Institute and the Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery Center are helping these patients not only survive but thrive.

By forming the Bariatric Heart Failure Program, Gopalan and Blackstone joined forces with other doctors to offer a better solution for patients. 

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