A team of surgeons and specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is announcing an achievement in transplant surgery today, having recently performed the largest number of adult heart transplants in the country using what are known as Donation after Circulatory Death (DCD) donor hearts. The five transplants also include the first surgery of this kind for the New England region.
For decades, heart transplant cases in the U.S. have been dependent solely upon organs donated after brain death or irreversible loss of brain function. A DCD donor has brain function incompatible with life, but doesn't meet all criteria for brain death. Life support is removed and if the donor's heart stops beating within a certain window of time, death is declared and the organ is removed. Outside the body, blood circulation is re-established in the heart using a machine pump while it is being transferred to the recipient.
This is a significant moment not only for MGH, but hopefully for transplant centers around the the country. Patients die each day while waiting for transplants, due to a major shortage of suitable organs. This is one way we can work toward addressing that gap." David D'Alessandro, MD, surgical director for Heart Transplantation at MGH Related Stories
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