The hearts were brought back to life and continued to beat outside the bodies of their donors before being planted in the bodies of the children – saving their lives.
Staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) and Royal Papworth Hospital (RPH) collaborated on the ‘game changer’ technique – known as donation after circulatory death (DCD).
Anna collapsed during PE class
Donated hearts have historically come from people who are brain dead but whose hearts are still beating, which limits the number of transplants possible.
The DCD not only allows more hearts to be used, but also carries them farther and gives surgeons and nurses more time.
This revolutionary technique was first implemented in Europe at RPH in 2015, but until recently has only been possible in adults.
The collaboration between RPH in Cambridge – whose team is recovering the heart – and Gosh, whose team is implanting the organ, as well as NHS Blood & Transplant, represents the first-ever use of the DCD technique in pediatric transplantation across the country. world.
Jacob Simmonds, consultant cardiologist and transplant physician in Gosh, praised the importance of the program.
Caitlin Goodsell, another patient who received a new heart
He said, “At the start of 2020, we had more children in Gosh on the transplant list than I had ever seen in my 16 years of working in the hospital.
“Every day that a child waits, there is a greater chance that they will get too sick, even for a transplant, or worse.
“Although advances in medicine have progressed, for some children with heart failure, organ donation is really their only hope.”
The DCD heart program has opened up more possibilities for donation, essentially doubling the number of transplants performed in Gosh in eligible patients weighing more than 44 lbs (20 kg), he said.
The first patient to receive a DCD heart through the partnership was 15-year-old Anna Hadley.
Anna was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy after collapsing during a PE course two months earlier.
Her father, Andrew, said: “After weighing the risks and potential benefits of DCD heart transplantation with a more conventional transplant, we realized that there was only one choice, and we are delighted to have done it.
“Five days after the transplant, Anna was walking up and down the halls, chatting and raising the staff’s five hands. It was amazing. ”