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Successful resurrected donor heart transplants in British teenagers

Doctors from the British NHS health service provided six British teens with a donor heart that had already stopped beating. Article link

The donor hearts were brought back to life by a machine that mimics the conditions in the human body.

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The British children are between 12 and 16 years old, were on the waiting list for a donor heart and all had surgery during the corona pandemic. That happened in a hospital in London.

Donor hearts normally come from patients who have been declared brain dead, but whose heart is still beating. Doctors in Cambridgeshire managed to get donor hearts out of order outside the bodies of the deceased. This was done with the help of a special machine, an Organ Care System (OCS).

This machine keeps the heart warm, provides it with nutrients and pumps 1.5 liters of blood from the donor through the heart in a cycle. When the heart was beating regularly again, it was transported to London and transplanted to one of the children.

Wait less long

If a heart that has stopped beating can nevertheless be made suitable for transplantation, more transplants may take place in the future. Those who need a donor heart will probably have to spend less time on a waiting list.

“It means that after death people can donate their hearts in situations where it was not previously possible,” said John Forsythe, medical director for organ donation and transplantation at the NHS.

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The method has previously been used successfully in adults. Article link

The British health service calls the application in children a world first. “That could well be,” says a spokesperson for the Dutch Transplantation Foundation (NTS). “A lot of research has been done in the UK and Australia in recent years.”

Dutch doctors want to soon start using the method for adults who need a donor heart. For the time being it does not apply to Dutch children.

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