Surgeons save 200 lives, including 15 children, by ‘jump-starting’ dead donors’ hearts 2023

A pioneering donor heart method saved almost 200 people, including 15 children.

The procedure, which restarts the organ in a machine 30 minutes after it stops in the donor, has increased NHS transplants by 25%.

Last night, leading heart surgeon Marius Berman of Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said: ‘Our nationwide pilot has resulted to a 28% rise in heart transplants across the UK. It could have a greater impact.

A mother who wants her daughters to marry and an extreme sports enthusiast benefited.

Heart transplant donation after circulatory death (DCD) has saved hundreds 

Brain-dead intensive care patients donate hearts.

DBD donors or “beating heart” donors are these.

160 Brits, 20% of them children, receive these transplants annually.

Tragically, one in five people who require a donor heart die before receiving one due to the shortage.

Since 2015, “heart transplant donation after circulatory death” (DCD) has widened the donor pool to include more causes of death.

Before then, DCD hearts were problematic since they stopped beating in the body and could have been injured.

However, a US-made Organ Care System, also known as the “heart-in-a-box” machine, restarts the heart and keeps it healthy.

DCD heart retrieval ends the dying patient’s medical treatment if all feel it’s futile. Hearts usually slow and stop in minutes.

Technique involves restarting heart up to half an hour after stopping in donor

The team waits five more minutes to determine the patient is dead. Surgeons begin afterward.

The donor’s heart is removed, emptied of blood, placed in the box, and piped. They next inject donor blood and preservatives.

‘When the heart perceives that flow, it slowly starts pumping again – all by itself – thanks to a little internal generator called the sinus node,’ Mr. Berman said.

After firing up, specialists spend an hour examining it for transplant. If successful, they take it to the recipient’s hospital.

An 18-month UK trial by NHSBT and NHS tested the strategy. A recent medical publication reports 179 DBD heart transplants and 50 DCDs.

Importantly, the UK pilot showed DCD heart survival rates are comparable.

Mr. Berman added: ‘The UK has the first nationwide DCD heart transplant program. It’s remarkable.

UK pilot has proven survival chances in patients are just as high with a DCD heart

since 2015. 15 children benefited.

Mother-of-two Melanie Field, 48, who has a hereditary disease that caused her heart to fail in her 20s, is thrilled.

Her wait was three years. Her heart assist machine stopped when intruders cut her electricity, leaving her minutes from death. She finally had surgery in 2021.

DCD gave me more chances, she stated. My DCD heart saved me from death.

2015 surgery for 31-year-old Tom Shing. Extreme sports enthusiast: ‘It transformed my life. Wakeboarding resumed eight weeks following surgery. I wouldn’t be here without the program.

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