British doctors carry out transplant with beating heart
Jun 5, 2006, 17:09

Doctors at a hospital have successfully transplanted a beating heart into a 58-year-old patient in the first operation of its kind in Britain.

The transplant was carried out two weeks ago at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, northeast of London. The male patient was doing 'extremely well', according to the hospital Monday.

The new technique involves keeping a donated heart warm and beating throughout the procedure, rather than packing it in ice for transport.

Bruce Rosengard, who led the medical team, told the BBC that the operation could eventually lead to a big rise in transplants.

Donor hearts are normally given a high dose of potassium to stop them beating and are packed in ice, which helps to keep them in a state of 'suspended animation'.

Under the new system, doctors hook the heart up to a machine, which keeps it beating with warm oxygenated blood flowing through it.

'If we look at resuscitating hearts that are currently unusable, the number of transplants could be tripled or quadrupled,' Rosengard said.

The transplant was done as part of a European trial. Researchers plan to carry out another 19 operations in Germany and the UK.

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