Considered as the first in US history, doctors were able to re-animate the heart which came from a dead donor. The Duke University doctors made use of an artificial circulatory mechanism which continued to pump blood into the heart even while it was already outside the body.

According to NYPost’s report, when the heart was revived, it was transplanted immediately to a patient who needed a healthy heart. The subsequent transplant was a success, allowing another person to enjoy life with the help of a heart from another.

heart donor dead first organ transplant
Heart donation. wagnercvilela - Pixabay

Warm Perfusion

Experts refer to the successful transplant as a major step towards slowly solving the ongoing problem concerning organ donor shortage. The technique that was used by the doctors was called warm perfusion. This method circulates blood, electrolytes, and oxygen through the heart. Because of the circulation, the heart gets to beat again. Although the recent procedure was first in the U.S., the same method was already used in the UK in 2015.

Organ Donor Shortage

According to Daily Mail, over 100,000 patients in the United States are on the waitlist for new organs. However, due to the shortage of donors, about 20 people die every day while waiting. The registered donors don’t seem to increase in number as well. The number of registered ones in the US is less than half of Americans.

Unusable Organs

The whole procedure is so delicate that when the donor dies, the organs tend to become either unusable or damaged, rending the organs unusable. Aside from death, a donor’s family history is also considered. Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, are often enough reasons for a donor to be stricken off the donor’s list.

Brain Dead Donors

For a long time, transplant doctors have relied on brain dead donors whose hearts are still beating even after being declared brain dead. Duke University doctors have already carried out 75 successful heart transplants. The hospital has gained fame as a reliable heart transplantation center in the U.S.

With the recent successful warm perfusion, it will open a whole new set of possibilities in terms of organ donation and increasing the number of recipients, and lives to be saved. According to Dr. Jacob Schroder, one of the surgeons, interviewed by Daily Mail, “This is the first time in the US, which is a huge deal because transplant need and volume is so high, but a few centers around the world, including Papworth, have pioneered this effort.”