28 October 2014

Transplantation of "dead" hearts

For the first time in the world, a patient received a heart transplant from a dead donor

Medicalexpress medical news: Australian doctors transplant 'dead' hearts in surgical breakthroughFor the first time in the world, Australian cardiac surgeons have transplanted a "dead" heart to patients.

The transplantation of a heart that has stopped beating has become an epochal event: the new technique will significantly increase the number of organs suitable for transplantation, which will save at least 30 percent more lives.

Until now, for heart transplants, doctors have used exclusively donor hearts that continued to beat, which were received from patients with diagnosed brain death. Now specialists from Sydney's St. Vincent's Hospital have performed three operations using so-called "dead" organs for transplantation.

According to the head of the group, Peter MacDonald, he and his colleagues have been working on the development of this technique for 20 years. "We studied how long the heart can remain fit after it stops beating," he said. "After that, we developed a technique for reactivating an organ in an apparatus for preserving organs."

To do this, blood is first taken from the donor's body, which is placed in a special device that allows the heart to be maintained in a normal state ex vivo (outside a living organism), then the heart is extracted, which is connected to it. The sterile electrical circuit makes the organ beat and maintains the necessary temperature.

A device for maintaining the life of the heart. Illustration from the website hotnewsinternational.com .

Before surgery, donor hearts can be stored in a container for at least four hours. Thus, doctors have the opportunity to know in advance how the transplanted organ will work. Using a new approach, doctors led by leading cardiac surgeon Kumud Dital transplanted hearts to three patients. Two of them are already feeling well and another one will soon be transferred from the intensive care unit to a regular ward.

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