A baby boy who underwent pioneering heart surgery in 2022 is now a thriving toddler, doctors have reported.
Owen Monroe (pictured) was born in 2022 with a heart defect and needed a partial heart transplant, at 17-days-old, which involved using living valves and arteries from a donated heart.
In contrast, a traditional heart valve replacement in young children, uses non-living valves and requires frequent, risky replacements as the child grows,
The early research for this procedure, conducted at Duke Health, North Carolina, was initially developed using piglets.
When Tayler Monroe, Owen’s mum, was first told that the best treatment option would be a partial heart transplant she asked some questions.
Speaking to ABC News, she said: "I hit them with a hard-hitting [question]: 'Have you done this before?'" "And they said, 'On five piglets.' And I said, 'I guess Owen's going to be your first human.' And we just put our faith and trust in them."
The Duke study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the valves and arteries are functioning well and growing in synchronisation with the child's development - reducing the need for further surgeries.
This partial heart transplant procedure also optimises the use of donated hearts.
Joseph Turek, Duke’s chief of pediatric cardiac surgery and first author of the study, said: “You could potentially double the number of hearts that are used for the benefit of children with heart disease.”