On Friday, Australian surgeons at the Saint-Vincent Hospital in Sydney and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute announced that they had succeeded, in a world first, in transplanting hearts that were no longer beating. To date, doctors have used hearts that are still beating taken from donors declared to be brain dead.
In reality, the hearts used by the Australian team had not been beating for almost 20 minutes. The surgeons placed them in a device known as “Heart in a box”, which preserved and resuscitated the hearts, keeping them warm. Of the three patients who underwent a transplant, two are recovering well whilst the third remains in intensive care.
According to doctors, in countries such as Japan or Vietnam where the criterion for death is “cardiac death”, this technique could facilitate more transplants.