First Dead Heart Used in Transplant in World


The world’s first dead heart used in a transplant has occurred in Australia. Before this happened, donor hearts that came from adults typically came from individuals who had been established as brain dead but who still had a beating heart. A medical team at a hospital in Sydney has begun reviving and then transplanting hearts that have quit beating for up to nearly 20 minutes. The first patient who received one of these hearts stated that she felt 10 years younger and was felt like a “different person.”

The human heart is the only organ that can be used once it has stopped working. Its contribution to another individual is called donation after circulatory death. Hearts that are still beating are usually removed from individuals that are brain-dead, put on ice and then transplanted into new patients within four hours.

This amazing development in Australia has come to be because of a machine called a “heart in a box.” The first machine of its kind, it literally takes a heart that has quit beating and helps get it going again. The organ remains warm, the heart’s beat is reinstated and a wholesome fluid aids in reducing any damage to the organ muscle.

The first individual to have the surgery was suffering from congenital heart failure. She went through the procedure over two months ago. She stated that she felt like a different person, and that she felt 20 years younger. She said she was very lucky.

Since that time, there have been two other successful surgeries. It is believed that such a breakthrough signifies a major way to reduce the lack of donor organs. It is also believed the heart in a box, which is being tested at different hospitals all over the world, might just end up saving almost 30% more lives by growing the number of accessible organs.

Such a breakthrough has been heralded around the globe. One nurse spoke to several different media sources and said that it was amazing to see the individuals who had went through the heart transplantation recovering so well when, if not for such a development, they could all still be on the waiting list for donor hearts.

It has been considered that this is the largest heart transplant breakthrough in 10 years. With such a type of surgery, it has major possibilities for decreasing the scarcity of donor organs. The amazing creation of the nutritious solution that is inside the heart in a box is what has made the entire technology be able to come together and work. All parts of the box are important but the vital fluid inside is what truly keeps the precious heart alive.

Because of it, the ability to save hearts, which were first thought to be incompatible for transplantation, means that thousands of more organs might become available to late stage heart failure victims as technology develops even more so. Doctors have stated many times that their largest difficulty has been the limited accessibility of organ donors. Researchers are still trying to figure out how long after death a heart can be revived, but have resuscitated hearts over the 30 minute mark after donor death.

By Kimberly Ruble


The Wall Street Journal

NBC News

BBC News

Photo by Malix – Flickr License

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