Sydney: In a world first, doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital have managed to transplant a heart that had stopped beating.
The donor heart wasn’t beating for up to 20 minutes before it was resuscitated and successfully transplanted, according to a statement.
The heart was brought back to life, then placed on a machine, before it was injected with a ground breaking preservation solution – developed by the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital.
It’s believed 30 per cent more lives will be saved using this new technique.
The preservation solution, which took 12 years to perfect, reduces the amount of damage to the heart, makes the heart more resilient to transplantation, reduces the number of heart muscle cells that die, improves heart function when it is restarted, and limits damage from a lack of oxygen.
Until now, transplant units have solely relied on donor hearts from brain-dead patients whose hearts are still beating. The new technique now allows doctors to transplant hearts that have stopped beating.
This represents a paradigm shift in organ donation and will result in a major increase in the pool of hearts available for transplantation, according to the doctors.