A dead heart has been brought back to life by a team of doctors at Duke University in the United States. The heart came from the body of a dead donor and the surgeons used a pioneering technique to run blood and oxygen back into the organ to restart it. It was then transplanted into a live recipient, creating hope for thousands of people in the US waiting for an organ transplant.
Although heart transplants are now relatively common, time is always crucial and there is a shortage of available organs. The procedure completed by Duke University surgeons is known as a ‘donation-after-death’ (DCD) transplant and involves removing the heart of a patient confirmed as dead. Dr Jacob Niall Schroder, Director of the Heart Transplantation Programme, tweeted the incredible video of the heart beating artificially.
— Jacob Niall Schroder (@JacobNiall) December 1, 2019
The DCD procedure has been used in the UK since 2009, but this was the first time it had been successfully completed in the US. Both the donor and the recipient of the heart remain unknown.
‘The success of the UK DCD programme can be attributed to the resolution of the apparent legal, ethical and professional obstacles to this model of donation,’ reports the NHS. ‘The underpinning principle of the programme is that donation can on many occasions be legitimately be viewed as part of the care that a person might wish to receive at the end of their lives.’ In 2018, 3,400 heart transplants were performed across the US.
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