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Dead Heart Transplant in Australia Could Revolutionize Organ Donation

Image: Dead Heart Transplant in Australia Could Revolutionize Organ Donation
Heart at the human hands. (Alexander Raths/dreamstime)

By    |   Friday, 24 Oct 2014 12:36 PM

A dead heart transplant in Australia is the world's third, and the technique used to make it happen could increase the number of donor hearts available for those in need.

According to Sky News, the so-called dead heart was not beating for up to 20 minutes before it was injected with preservation solution, placed on a machine, and brought back to life. At that point, the surgeons at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney determined it was ready for transplant.

"This is something that we have been researching really over the last four years can sustain this period where the heart has stopped beating. Having done that we have developed a technique for then reactivating the heart," said cardiologist and team leader Professor Peter MacDonald.

"We warm it up and the heart starts to beat. When it's beating we can measure the metabolism of the heart and based on the performance of the heart on the machine we can tell quite reliably whether this heart will work [for transplant] . . . Up until now no one has attempted to recover hearts from these donors to transplant them."

Some estimate that up to 30 percent more lives will be saved as a result of the new procedure.

The BBC reported that Michelle Gribilas, 57, was the first to have the surgery more than two months ago. Prior to it, she could barely walk 100 meters.

"Now I'm a different person altogether," she said, noting that she now walks 3 kilometers a day. "I feel like I'm 40 years old — I'm very lucky."

The new technique is similar to those used in liver, kidney, and lung transplants, which are considered to be of marginal suitability for donation.

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A dead heart transplant in Australia is the world's third, and the technique used to make it happen could increase the number of donor hearts available for those in need.
dead, heart, transplant, australia
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2014-36-24
Friday, 24 Oct 2014 12:36 PM
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