DOCS have brought a “dead” heart back to life and successfully transplanted the organ for the first time in the US.
Surgeons at Duke University harvested the heart from a dead donor whose blood had already stopped pumping through their body.
A pioneering technique was then used to run blood back into the disembodied heart, so it would beat once again.
Incredibly, the heart can be preserved and kept beating for up to eight hours after being removed from the donor.
Dr Jacob Niall Schroder, Director of the Heart Transplantation Programme, tweeted a video of the heart beating outside of the body.
He wrote: “1st adult DCD heart in the USA!!!! This is the donor pool actively expanding.”
The identities of the donor and recipient of the heart remain unclear.
The breakthrough surgery, which is known as donation after circulatory determined death (DCD), opens the door to a much wider pool of donors in the future.
While this was the first DCD heart transplant in the US, the technique has been widely used in the UK since 2009.
DCD donation now represents 39% of all deceased organ donors.
The first human heart transplant took place in 1967 in South Africa.
A year later, Stanford University doctors performed the first such transplant in the US.
In 2018, 3,400 heart transplants were performed across the US.
Overall, there were 36,500 transplants in that year – a record number.
But despite this, the need for organ donors is always growing.
On average, 20 patients die every day waiting for a transplant in 2017.
What organs can be donated?
There are a number or organs that you can select to be donated.
- Small intestine
- Tissue (from heart valves, skin, bone, tendons, eyes etc)
- Corneas (tissue at the front of your eye)
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