In the world, there are always people, who are in serious need of transplanting one of their organs. It is not easy, to be on “waiting list” and just wait for the call. On this note, Australia accomplished something really incredible. They came up with a new preservation method and since then three hearts were successfully transplanted from dead individuals to others. There is no need to say, that this saved their lives. The team responsible for these operations was from Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Sydney’s St. Vincent’s hospital, with Professor Bob Graham leading the team.
The method, which doctors were using before , consisted of removing the heart from donor patient, who is only brain-dead but still has cardiovascular function. On October 29, the doctors at St. Vincent’s hospital claimed, that they achieved the 3 heart transplants using hearts, that stopped beating for over 20 minutes. This makes the hospital to believe, that up to 30% lives can be saved through this new method of preservation.
The first patient, who had the surgery was Michelle Gribilas. She described herself as “completely new person” after successful transplantation. Michelle is 57 years old and she was suffering from congenital heart failure and she said:
“I had the transplant couple of months ago and I was very sick before I had it now. Now I feel wonderful, I walk three kilometers a day.”
Jan Damen is another patient, who went through this surgery. He is a carpenter, a husband and a father of three girls. Regarding his experience, he said:
“I feel amazing. I have to say I never thought I’d feel so privileged to wear the St. Vincent’s pyjamas. I’m just looking forward to getting back out into the real world.”
We also know, how this new method of preservation works. There are many factors, that doctors need to take into consideration. The heart of a donor is kept alive and beating by life support machine known as a “heart-in-box”. This box preserves the heart and also reduces risks of any damage to the heart. This makes it more flexible for transplantation and prevents it from a lack of oxygen. When the heart inside this machine and also patient, who will get this heart is ready, the doctors disconnect the warm heart from the machine and begin the surgery.
Professor Bob Graham was the leader of the team and has spent last 12 years developing a specialized fluid and pump, that provide the heart with oxygen, reducing damage and preserving all tissues. Kumud Dhital is Cardiothoracic surgeon, who performed the transplantations. He said in a press conference:
“North America and Europe are very envious that we were able to get on a do this. Many prestigious units around the world have been working towards this and haven’t been able to pull it off. It literally is a world first, it means a lot for the transplant world.”
This technique could be much easier on the heart. It reduces the number of cells in the heart that die during the transplant process and the damage, which was caused by lack of oxygen is minimized. With this being said, we wish the patients good health and many more years of awesome productive life!
We recommend to check out also the article: What Are The Least Essential Organs In The Human Body?
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