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Beating-heart transplant UK first

26th June 2006

Doctors have carried out the UK's first successful beating-heart transplant.

The recipient, a 58-year-old man who received his new heart at the end of May at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, is said to be doing "extremely well".

The new technique involves keeping a donated heart warm and beating throughout the procedure, rather than packing it in ice for transport.

The process gives doctors more time to get hearts to the recipient.

Donor hearts are normally given a high dose of potassium to stop them beating and are packed in ice which helps to keep them in a state of "suspended animation".

But there is only a four-to-six-hour window for the organ to be transplanted into the recipient, which could be a problem if a heart becomes available in a remote area - many organs in the UK are transported by road.

Under the new system, doctors hook the heart up to a machine which keeps it beating with warm oxygenated blood flowing through it. This gives doctors time to examine the heart for any damage and the chance to better match the organ with a recipient.

The heart can be kept outside the body longer and reaches the transplant patient in much better condition.

The transplant was done as part of a European trial. Researchers plan to carry out another 19 operations in Germany and the UK. If the technique proved successful in resuscitating hearts that were currently unusable the number of transplants could be tripled or quadrupled.

Professor Bruce Rosengard, who led the team carrying out the transplant, said the operation was a success, the heart was working well and there were no signs of rejection.

In 2004/05 115 heart transplants were carried out, 15 patients died while waiting for a donor organ and 54 patients were still on the waiting list.

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Article Information

Title: Beating-heart transplant UK first
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 428
Date Added: 26th Jun 2006

Sources

BBC News
Papworth People

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