Non-beating heart recipient Huseyin Ulucan, left, from London Photo: BBC
Surgeons have carried out the UK’s first non-beating heart transplant.
Huseyin Ulucan, 60, from London, became the first successful recipient of a heart transplant from a non-beating heart donor in Europe following an operation at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire earlier this month.
The hospital said he is making “remarkable progress” after spending only four days in its critical care unit and is now recovering well at home.
Currently not everyone who needs a heart transplant can have one due to there not being enough suitable ones available, but it is thought that by using non-beating hearts the operations could increase by up to 25 per cent in the UK alone, saving hundreds of lives.
Usually hearts of people that have died are kept beating but the procedure, developed at Papworth, involves restoring function to the heart before it is then placed onto an Organ Care System (OCS) to maintain its quality before it is transplanted.
Transmedics video about organ preservation techniques
Cardiothoracic transplant registrar Simon Messer said: “Using techniques developed to recover the abdominal organs in non-heart beating donors, we wanted to apply similar techniques to hearts from these donors.
“Until this point we were only able to transplant organs from DBD (donation after brain-stem death) donors. However, research conducted at Papworth allowed us to develop a new technique not used anywhere else in the world to ensure the best possible outcome for our patients using hearts from non-beating heart donors.”
Mr Ulucan, who had a heart attack in 2008, told the BBC: “Before the surgery, I could barely walk and I got out of breath very easily, I really had no quality of life.
“Now I’m feeling stronger every day, and I walked into the hospital this morning without any problem.”
The team was led by consultant surgeon Stephen Large, who said: “Significant research has gone into finding new, safe ways to increase the number of lives we save using heart transplantation.
“This is a very exciting development. By enabling the safe use of this kind of donor hearts, we could significantly increase the total number of heart transplants each year, saving hundreds of lives.”