Surgeons at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire had a breakthrough in medical advancement. The group of surgeons has successfully transplanted a non-beating heart. Generally the donor's heart is beating and 'alive' but in this case the organ was salvaged from a donor whose heart and lungs had stopped working. In medical terms, it's also defined as circulatory death.

The recipient, Huseyin Ulucan, 60 years-old, from London had a heart attack in 2008. Reportedly, before the surgery, he could barely walk and had difficulty in doing even most routine chores. After the surgery, he said he was delighted with the improvements he noticed in himself.

An overview

In the past 12 months, there have been more than 150 heart transplants in the UK; but the demand only seems to be exceeding swiftly. Many people die waiting for an appropriate donor for the heart. Though non-beating heart donors can provide other organs like kidneys and livers, the medical fraternity refrained from the attempts of transplanting the heart, because of the concerns of possible damage. Reluctance of family members and lack of prompt actions could also be causes of low transplant records.

Technology

So far, keeping the heart in ice and transporting it to the recipient as soon as possible, was the only way of minimizing the damage to the heart. This old way would give only five to seven minutes of crucial time for the whole procedure. The new procedure involves restarting the heart of the donor within few minutes after death by perfusing blood and it has been proven to be effective to keep the heart 'alive'. This new system called 'Heart-in-a-box' machine, provides blood and nutrients to the heart in a controlled manner, in the same way as it would receive in the human body.

This newly evolved procedure is soon to replace the old way of keeping the heart beating. Though this procedure is enormously expensive today, as each day the technology is taking great leaps forward, we can expect such technology to be widespread and affordable for every heart patient soon.