Saturday, April 9, 2016

Living heart donation

Living kidney donation is common (healthy people have two kidneys and can remain healthy with one). Living heart donation is rare, but not unheard of: when I look at the OPTN data I see 40 heart transplants from living donors since 1988, 12 of them in 1990.  (By contrast there have been just under 65,000 heart transplants from deceased donors in that time.)

Here's a report on the latest, which explains what's going on.

After rare procedure, woman can hear her heart beat in another

"The first thing Linda Karr asked her doctor after her heart transplant surgery at Stanford Hospital was, “How is my heart donor doing?”

"That question is as exceptionally rare as the surgery that made it possible. On Feb. 1, as part of a “domino” procedure, Karr received the heart of Tammy Griffin, who received a new heart and lungs from a deceased donor.
"Organs available for transplant are in short supply. Heart-lung combinations are even more rare because a set of heart and lungs is usually split up so that the organs can benefit two people instead of just one. Domino transplantation of a heart-lung and heart does, however, benefit two people. A highly unusual procedure, it has only been performed at Stanford eight times before, last in 1994.

For Griffin, who has cystic fibrosis, receiving new lungs was critical. Her lung capacity had diminished so much that she was on oxygen full time, unable to do much at all. She had so little energy that she couldn’t get through a shower without sitting down to rest.

Her heart, however, was still functioning well. “Her heart was an innocent bystander pushed out of its normal position in the middle of the lungs as her right lung shrank and the left one expanded,” said Joseph Woo, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Stanford Health Care who oversaw and coordinated the surgical teams that conducted the domino procedure. That displacement made a heart-lung transplant the only viable option for Griffin, said Woo, who is also professor and chair of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford School of Medicine."

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