Monday, June 19, 2006

Beating Donor Heart Transplant

About 2 weeks ago, in late May, we are told that the reknown cardiac transplant team in Cambridge's Papworth Hospital performed a beating donor heart transplant on a 58yr old male. No, they did not do the surgery with the recepient heart beating.

This cardiac transplant is important because the donor heart was kept beating, till it is introduced into the recepient's chest, to replace the failing recepient's heart. Till then, the heart transplantation program has always depended on donors who were brain dead for whatever reason, the heart removed by the transplantation team, stopped from beating with infusion of potassium, packed in cold ice, almost frozen, transported quickly (in less than 4 hours) to the donor hospital, and quickly transplanted into the recepient's chest to replace the failing recepient heart. With this new breakthrough of beating donor heart transportation, there was time for transportation, even time to examine the donor heart and possibly surgically correct minor defects before placing it into the recepient. Can you imagine. This will certainly increase the number of available donor hearts. We will have more time to select, and more hearts to select from and also match the donor to recepient. All that has happen is this new device, whereby a donor heart, expunged from the dying donor body is hooked up to a machine that keeps it beating with circulating oxygenated blood, so that it can be maintained longer, giving more time for transportation and preparation.

This is indeed an important breakthrough, and the Papworth's team should be congratulated. We are glad to note that the patient who had this heart transplantation done 2 weeks ago is doing well.

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