The Dutch transplant association NTS has said that thanks to the new “heart-in -the-box” preservation technique, the number of people waiting for a donor heart in the Netherlands has stabilised.
Since 2021 some 60 people have received a donor heart using the technique, pioneered in the United States in 2020.
Instead of using the heart of a living but brain-dead donor, doctors remove the heart of a dead person and connect it to a machine while keeping it supplied with the donor’s blood.
Apart from making more donor hearts available, the technique gives doctors a time-slot of up to eight hours to do the operation, while also making transport over longer distances possible.
“By the end of June we had already done 30 transplants when we do a total of 40 in a normal year,” said Michael Erasmus, heart and lung surgeon at Groningen University medical centre.
Erasmus said the number could go up to 60 which would also shorten waiting lists and reduce the number of people who die before a donor heart becomes available.
“We are already seeing that waiting lists are stabilising, after growing over previous years. And the results of this method work out at least as well for patients as the classic donation technique.”
The method will be included in the basic health package from January 1 next year.
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