May 23, 2024 Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Celebrates Heart Recovery Patients During Special Reunion

Jim Hart and Dr. Zakir

(New Brunswick, NJ) - Two patients who experienced life-threatening heart conditions returned to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) in New Brunswick, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, to thank the teams that cared for them and learn more about the advanced technology that saved their lives.

Dr. Jim Hart and Keith Hoch reunited with their medical teams and celebrated their heart recovery. Both were treated using an Impella, the world’s smallest heart pump. Impella heart pumps temporarily assist the pumping function of the heart to efficiently deliver blood and oxygen to the body. This allows the heart to rest, which can result in heart recovery.

Hart survived a near fatal heart attack thanks to his son performing CPR and the technology, while the pump supported Hoch long enough so that he could receive a life-saving heart transplant, also at RWJUH.

Both are doing well and now want to educate others about the importance of heart health, learning CPR and becoming an organ donor.

A 48-year-old South Brunswick resident, Hart is not only a father, husband, and pastor but also a professor at Rutgers University's Graduate School of Social Work. His life took a dramatic turn on February 4, 2023 when he experienced a heart attack on his way home from coaching his son’s basketball game. When Hart and his son Daniel arrived at home, Jim received CPR from his son Daniel, who recently completed CPR training in middle school. Treated by Ramzan Zakir, MD, Director of High-Risk PCI and Research at RWJUH and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at RWJMS. Hart’s condition improved with the implantation of the Impella heart pump. Dr. Zakir views Hart’s recovery as a testament to the "chain of survival," from CPR training to first responders to expert care at RWJUH. Inspired by his journey, Hart has become an advocate for the American Heart Association, spreading awareness about CPR. For Hart’s full story, Read Hart's story.

Keith Hoch Team

A 71-year-old Toms River resident. Hoch’s unwavering positivity, and commitment to his care regimen earned him the nickname "golden patient." Treated by RWJUH’s Advanced Heart Failure team, including Deepa Iyer, MD, Medical Director of RWJUH’s Advanced Heart Failure, VAD and Transplant Program and Dr. Kenneth Dulnuan, Advanced Heart Failure Cardiologist. Hoch underwent a life-saving heart transplant on January 9, 2021, performed by RWJUH and RWJMS cardiac surgeon Hirohisa Ikegami, MD, with the donor heart procured by Anthony Lemaire, MD, RWJUH and RWJMS Transplant Surgeon. Keith has since returned to his active lifestyle, including his passion for fishing. For Hoch’s full story, Read Hoch's story.

For more information about cardiac services, please visit: Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Care at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) New Brunswick, an RWJBarnabas Health Facility, is a 628-bed academic medical center that is New Jersey’s largest academic medical center through its deep partnership with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. RWJUH is the flagship Cancer Hospital of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, a nationally-ranked 2023-24 Best Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report. Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation, cancer care, stroke care, neuroscience, orthopedics, bariatric surgery and women’s health. A Level 1 Trauma Center and the first designated Pediatric Trauma Center in the state, RWJUH’s New Brunswick campus serves as a national resource in its ground-breaking approaches to emergency preparedness. Learn more at or

RWJUH has earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety, including the prestigious Magnet® Recognition for Nursing Excellence and being named to Newsweek’s 2023 list of Best Ambulatory Surgery Centers. The RWJUH Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center has been recognized by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association as meeting The Joint Commission's standards for Disease-Specific Care Comprehensive Stroke Center Advanced Certification. RWJUH has also earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Disease-Specific Care Certification for Spine Surgery; The Joint Commission Gold Seal Certification for Bariatric Services; and The Joint Commission Gold Seal Certification for Hip and Knee Replacement services. The Joint Commission also awarded RWJUH a Gold Seal Certification as well as an Advanced Certification in Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Implantation.

Contact: Peter Haigney
RWJUH Public Relations
(732) 937-8568