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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Cut heart transplant units say experts

6th May 2011

Heart experts have called for a reduction in the number of adult heart transplant units in the UK because too few transplants are being performed.

heart surgery

Figures show there has been a 46% fall in transplants over the last 10 years, prompting doctors at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital to call for a rethink on the need for six centres.

The six units are in Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Cambridge and London.

The government has already indicated that it is looking at reviewing the provision with heart experts suggesting that bigger and better-resourced units could be a preferable option.

British Heart Foundation medical director Professor Peter Weissberg agreed that fewer centres may be a solution but he also said a closer look at the donor system was needed.

Professor Weissberg added: “Encouraging more people to join the organ donor register, or even better, changing our organ donation system so people must 'opt out' if they don't want to donate would help increase the number of donor hearts available.”

The number of transplants carried out 10 years ago was 159 a year but that had fallen to 86 last year, but with no clear reason why.

With donors at a record high, analysis by four doctors suggested it could be down to a lack of intensive care beds or because potential donors are found to have hearts which are unsuitable for transplant.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said an official review would be starting soon to ensure transplants were being "carried out in the most effective way".


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