First 'dead heart' transplants successful

Oct 24, 2014, 6:37 PM EDT
Surgeons take a heart valve out of a donor pig at St. Anne's University Hospital on September 16, 2013 in Brno, Czech Republic.
isifa/Getty Images

The transplant of a "dead heart" has been a multi-decade-long project, and has now been hailed a success as surgeons in Australia say they have performed a few successful surgeries. The BBC writes:

Donor hearts from adults usually come from people who are confirmed as brain dead but with a heart still beating.
 
A team at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney revived and then transplanted hearts that had stopped beating for up to 20 minutes.
 
The first patient who received a heart said she felt a decade younger and was now a "different person".
 
Hearts are the only organ that is not used after the heart has stopped beating - known as donation after circulatory death.
 
Beating hearts are normally taken from brain-dead people, kept on ice for around four hours and then transplanted to patients.
 
 
Two of the patients are already up and about, while the most recent recipient is still recovering in intensive care.
 
Heart transplants typically rely on organs taken from brain-dead donors whose hearts are still beating; the Herald reports the new development could save 30% more lives. The surgeon who performed the operations says he "kicked the air" after he realized the first surgery had gone well.
 
The secret to their success lies in cutting-edge technology and the preservation solution in which the non-beating hearts are immersed.
 
The heart is first placed in a special "heart in a box" machine that warms it up and keeps it beating for about four hours before the transplant operation. The preservation solution, which alone took 12 years to develop, minimizes damage to the organ after it has stopped beating and helps ensure it both survives the surgery and functions in the recipient's body, Sky News reports.
 
Michelle Gribilas, a 57-year-old who had congestive heart failure, tells theHerald that she was "very sick" before having the operation two months ago, and "now I'm a different person altogether. I feel like I'm 40 years old."

 

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