Stanford Medicine performs first beating-heart transplant

Stanford (Calif.) Medicine surgeons are the first to transplant a beating heart into a patient.

The first surgery took place in October and has since been followed by five more in both adult and pediatric patients, according to an April 19 system press release. 

The first surgery, performed by Joseph Woo, MD, chair of cardiothoracic surgery, and his team, lasted only four hours. Surgeons received the heart from a cardiac-death donor via "Heart-in-a-Box" technology. The device keeps the heart pumping with oxygenated blood. The team sewed the beating heart into the patient.

Hearts from cardiac-death donors are typically stopped twice — once when the donor patient dies, and again before transplantation, which can weaken the heart and impair its performance in the recipient. Patients who received the beating hearts spent less time in the hospital following transplantation, and the Stanford team believes they will have better outcomes over the long term as well. 

"This can be revolutionary," Dr. Woo said in the report. "It's an exciting time for our entire department. This is a big team of very creative individuals that are willing to push the limits of modern technology and healthcare."

The procedure was described in a study published March 1 in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Techniques.

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