One of Louisiana's Few Pediatric Cardiologists Leaves the State Due to Anti-LGBTQ Laws: 'Our Children Come First'

Jake Kleinmahon is moving with his husband and two children after state Republicans supported anti-LGBTQ laws

<p>WDSU News/YouTube</p> Pediatric cardiologist Jake Kleinmahon.

WDSU News/YouTube

Pediatric cardiologist Jake Kleinmahon.

A Louisiana pediatric cardiologist — one of three who handle heart transplants — is leaving in response to the state’s anti-LGBTQ laws.

Jake Kleinmahon, who graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans, said he and his husband Tom moved back to Louisiana in 2018.

“At the time there was only one heart transplant doctor in the state of Louisiana,” he told CNN.

Kleinmahon began working as director of the pediatric heart transplant program at a local children’s hospital, telling CNN, “I believe the kids in Louisiana should have the same world-class health care as any other part of the United States.”

But in the wake of anti-LGBTQ legislation that is supported by the state’s Republican legislature, Kleinmahon and his husband, who have two children, decided to leave Louisiana.

<p>Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo</p> Louisiana protest of Don't Say Gay bill.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

Louisiana protest of Don't Say Gay bill.

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“When I came back [to] Louisiana almost exactly 5 years ago, I came with the goal of building one of the highest quality pediatric heart transplant, heart failure, and ventricular assist programs in the country,” he said in a post on Instagram.

“We have been quite successful and I’m so proud of what we’ve built. My plan had been to stay at my current institution until I retired. However, over the last year, Tom and I have watched state legislatures across the south pass anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Louisiana’s last legislative session was no different.”

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Although the state's governor, John Bel Edwards, vetoed three of the bills — including one that banned gender-affirming care for transgender children, and one prohibiting teachers from discussing sexuality in school, known widely as “Don’t Say Gay” bills — the Republican-led legislature overturned the gender-affirming care ban.

<p>Matthew Hinton/AP Photo</p> Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

Matthew Hinton/AP Photo

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

And when Republicans walked out of a discussion on “Don’t Say Gay,” Kleinmahon told CNN, “It really showed that they just don’t care.”

“Tom and I have discussed at length the benefits of continuing to live in the south, as well as the toll that it takes on our family,” Kleinmahon’s Instagram post read. “Because of this, we are leaving Louisiana.”

Kleinmahon accepted a position as Director of Pediatric Heart Transplant, Heart Failure, and Ventricular Assist Devices at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Long Island, New York.

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His departure means there are now only two doctors in all of Louisiana who handle pediatric heart transplants.

“Me leaving is going to leave somewhat of a hole for medical care," he told WDSU.

“This is a wonderful new opportunity, but it is incredibly sad to leave our home, our friends, colleagues, and patients and their families,” he wrote on Instagram. “Our children come first. We cannot continue to raise them in this environment.”

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