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Doctors Complete First Heart Transplant From Dead Donor In Breakthrough Surgery

Dominic Smithers

| Last updated 

Doctors Complete First Heart Transplant From Dead Donor In Breakthrough Surgery

WARNING: Graphic Content

Doctors have made a breakthrough after completing the first heart transplant from a dead donor.

Surgeons at Duke University brought a 'dead heart' back to life in what is the first adult 'donation-after-death' (DCD) transplant in the United States.

The pioneering procedure involved the heart being taken from a patient who had been pronounced dead before being transplanted into another patient.


A heart can be preserved for up to eight hours after being removed from the deceased.

The incredible feat was announced on Twitter by Dr Jacob Niall Schroder, Director of the Heart Transplantation Programme at the North Carolina-based university.

He posted a breathtaking video of the heart beating independently of the body.


He wrote: "1st adult DCD heart in the USA!!!! This is the donor pool actively expanding."

The identities of those involved in the surgery have not been confirmed but it represents a sign of hope for patients in the future.

Following the announcement, people have praised the surgeons from the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery for their incredible work.

Commenting on Dr Schroder's post, one person wrote: "Congratulations to you and your team! This is outstanding."


A second added: "Simply amazing. Congratulations to you + colleagues for dreaming big. Excited to see the results."

While another thanked the donor for their selfless act, writing: "We should all acknowledge the hero who gave this organ so that a stranger would have a second chance at life."

The pioneering surgery is a first in the US. Credit: Twitter
The pioneering surgery is a first in the US. Credit: Twitter

But while it may have been the first DCD heart transplant in the US, similar operations have been carried out in the UK for the past 10 years. DCD donations now amount to more than a third - 39 percent - of all deceased organ donors.


In what would represent another first, pig hearts could be adapted for human use within just three years, the surgeon who pioneered heart transplantation in the UK revealed earlier this year.

Sir Terence English, 87, performed Britain's first ever successful heart transplant 40 years ago, and now believes 'xenotransplantation' (transplanting organs or tissue from one species to another) could be the next step.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, English said: "If the result of xenotransplantation is satisfactory with porcine kidneys to humans then it is likely that hearts would be used with good effects in humans within a few years.

"If it works with a kidney, it will work with a heart. That will transform the issue."

Featured Image Credit: Twitter

Topics: Science, Interesting, US News, Twitter, Health

Dominic Smithers
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