Using a revolutionary new piece of technology that’s been called a “heart in a box,” the device can keep the organ preserved and actually beating for as long as eight hours, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.
Surgeons at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester managed the successful operation and transplant for patient Anthony Anderson, a 58-year-old man from Swinton who had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle. The condition left him clinging to life in an intensive care unit and landed him on an urgent heart transplant list.
“When I got the call I felt very emotional, really happy, but of course sad that someone had to die to help me and I will be forever grateful to my donor,” Anderson said following the transplant surgery.
Wythenshawe Hospital is a well-known medical center and one of only four worldwide that has performed the revolutionary transplant procedure. So far, just a small number of patients have had one.
However, doctors and surgeons say they are confident that the procedure can save scores of lives in the future by permitting a larger number of hearts to be used for donation purposes. At the present time, about 15 of every 100 patients on waiting lists for heart transplants die before they receive one.
That said, doctors are confident that the new technology will help them save many more lives because more hearts will be able to be used for donation purposes.
As the Daily Mail reported further:
Anthony first began feeling tired and suffering with palpitations in 2002, but over time his symptoms worsened significantly and he was referred to Wythenshawe Hospital.
Just weeks after his transplant, Anthony was back at home, but continues to be monitored by the team.
“I think the transplant team at Wythenshawe Hospital are out of this world. I'm getting stronger every day and my plan is now to enjoy retirement with my wife Lisa, a pediatric nurse at Salford Royal,” Anderson said.
Here’s how the new procedure works.
First developed just a couple of years ago and not yet widely utilized, it involves the use of a technology known as the Transmedia Organ Care System to resuscitate and sustain hearts that were previously unusable.
The device works by pumping blood around the heart to restore oxygenation and functionality. Once the heart begins beating once more, surgeons can assess the donor heart more comprehensively and thus reduce the risk it will be rejected by its recipient — a major problem with any donated organ. There are also problems with donated organs being diseased. (Related: Organ Donor Wakes Up During Harvesting Of Her Body Parts After Doctors Jumped To Conclusions.)
Rajamiyer Venkateswaran, who is the director of transplantation and consultant cardiac surgeon at the hospital, said this form of transplant is different because it utilizes a “Donation After Circulatory Determined Death” (DCD) donor heart. That is a condition where the brain is not actually dead yet but has encountered severe brain injury.
“In this scenario, the treatment of the donor is withdrawn and allows cardiac arrest to happen,” he told the Daily Mail. “The heart is then retrieved from the donor and is resuscitated on the Organ Care System machine.”
He adds: “I am so proud of our team at the Transplant Center. It is an amazing development as previously we would not have been able to use these hearts for transplantation.”
He said he hoped that the new procedure would allow for an increase in hospital heart transplants of about 20 percent in the coming years. Currently, the hospital performs roughly 25 transplants per year.