Child heart transplant breakthrough

Updated: Oct 5


A partial heart transplant, previously only performed in pigs, has been successfully conducted in the US on a child.


Five-month-old Owen was born with his two main heart arteries fused together, which usually needs a series of repair surgeries to replace the arteries and valves – however in this case complications meant it was not going to be possible.


The alternative was therefore to use a heart tissue from an infant donor (see the animated video).- previously the procedure had already been performed successfully using pigs.


The operation was not only smooth and successful, but the transplanted heart has grown along with Owen, who can now live a normal life.


The operation solves a major problem in pediatric heart surgery, which is that children grow, but the replacement valves did not grow with them.


The surgery, performed at Duke Health, North Carolina, USA, was led by Joseph W. Turek, chief of pediatric surgery.


Dr Turek told the Today program: “It will be really revolutionary in the sense that we can do an operation that could potentially last a child like Owen decades, maybe a lifetime.”


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