For the first time in the United States, a heart from a deceased donor was successfully revived prior to being transplanted into a patient in need.
On Sunday, Duke University doctors revived the heart from the deceased donor using an artificial circulatory mechanism, according to the New York Post. Once beating, the heart was successfully transplanted into the patient, a military veteran, according to a statement provided to Fox News from the Duke Health.
Jacob Niall Schroder, director of the heart transplant program at Duke University Medical Center, later took to Twitter with now-deleted footage of the heart beating outside of a human body. The physician in the same tweet said the occurrence was the “[first] adult DCD heart in the USA.” DCD stands for donation after circulatory death.
To restart the heart outside of the body, doctors used warm perfusion, a trailblazing technique that “circulates blood, oxygen and electrolytes through the disembodied heart,” according to the Post. In 2015, according to Schroder’s tweet, Royal Papworth Hospital in the U.K. became one of the first to use warm perfusion.
The method could expand the donor pool — which is currently facing a shortage — “up to as much as 30 [percent],” he added, noting this could subsequently “decrease waitlist time, deaths on the waitlist, with excellent survival results.”
Typically, according to the statement from Duke Health, heart donations “have depended on a declaration of brain death." But donation after circulatory death "occurs after the heart has stopped beating and the person’s death has been declared. DCD transplantation is done regularly in the U.S. for organs other than the heart, although DCD heart transplants have been conducted in Europe and Australia.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Schroder called the transplant “a huge deal.”
“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," he said.