Duke performs world's 1st dual heart-thymus transplant procedure 

Durham, N.C.-based Duke Health performed the world's first dual heart-thymus transplant procedure last August, the system said March 7.

The transplant was performed Aug. 6 on a 6-month-old baby named Easton. The cultured thymus tissue from his heart donor was implanted two weeks after the initial transplant. Since the thymus gland stimulates the development of T-cells, the processed tissue is hoped to establish the donor’s immune system as the recipient’s. 

His care team at Duke continually monitors his progress, but tests show he is building the necessary immune cells to potentially reduce or eliminate the need for prolonged use of toxic anti-rejection drugs. 

"Cases like this underscore how important new insights emerge when surgery and science are expertly practiced together," said Allan Kirk, MD, PhD, chair of the department of surgery at Duke University School of Medicine. "This case has implications for more than just heart transplantation — it could change the way that many solid organ transplants are done in the future."

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