NEWARK, NJ — Newark Beth Israel Medical Center announced Friday that the Transplant Program director who allegedly pushed for unethical patient care will be leaving the facility.
Dr. Mark Jay Zucker, who joined the heart transplant team at NBIMC in 1989, is moving on to “pursue new opportunities in the practice of medicine, cardiology and advanced heart failure,” according to a statement. He was at the center of a 2019 ProPublica expose that claimed the cardiologist told his team to keep vegetative transplant patient Darryl Young alive to boost the program’s survival rate.
Young suffered brain damage during his heart transplant in 2018, according to reports, and failed to wake up. Zucker is also said to have told his staff not to discuss hospice care with Young’s family.
Under Zucker, Newark Beth Israel has grown to have one of the highest-ranking transplant programs in the United States, performing more than 1,000 transplants. In 2010, NBIMC was recognized by the Health Resources and Services Administration as one of only two programs in the country to have better than expected one-year transplant survival rates. Two years later, the program was additionally recognized as having one of the best three-year survival rates.
Zucker was placed on administrative leave soon after the ProPublica story’s publication. In a statement, NBIMC said the accusations were “presented without context” and that investigations conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the New Jersey Department of Health found no wrongdoing on Zucker’s behalf.
“Newark Beth Israel Medical Center has always had a reputation for providing high-quality care, state-of-the-art care and I am truly proud to have worked there for more than three decades, served the community with honor, and contributed substantially to that reputation,” Zucker said in a statement. “It is my hope that the program to which I dedicated my entire professional career will remain a destination for healthcare for years to come.”
NBIMC added that no discipline was enacted against Zucker or anyone regarding his medical staff privileges at the facility or any RWJBH affiliate.
“When my grandfathers founded Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, they envisioned a place that was dedicated to helping the local community: that spent every day working on how to improve the health of those who needed help the most. No one better exemplifies that commitment than Mark Zucker.,” said Dr. Victor Parsonnet, the former chief of surgery at NBIMC and a member of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.