Doctors say the operation was successful and the prognosis is favourable. Credit: Freepik.

Czech Doctors Successfully Perform Heart Transplant To 3-Month-Old Infant

Doctors at the Prague-Motol University Hospital have transplanted a heart to a three-month-old baby girl with cardiomyopathy, a heart defect that leads to extremely rapid organ failure, child cardiac centre director Ondrej Materna told CTK. The infant is the youngest ever recipient of a heart transplant in the Czech Republic. 

The baby girl, currently four months old, is still hospitalised in Motol. Doctors say the operation was successful and the prognosis is favourable, the hospital announced in a press release.

According to data from the Transplant Coordination Centre, doctors have completed 34 heart transplants in the Czech Republic this year, up to the end of September, compared to 81 for the whole of last year.

The newborn baby started having problems less than a month after birth. Doctors diagnosed her with a severe form of cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart’s muscle cells are malformed and the heart fails to perform its function as a pump. In this case, it was an extremely fast progressing disease, and the child had to be connected to a breathing device and mechanical heart support for 34 days before the transplant.

“A heart transplant in such a young child, who is still connected to left ventricular mechanical heart support, requires complex logistics for the entire transplant team and coordination centre. The operation was successful and we hope that the patient will cope well with the postoperative course,” said Zaneta Bandzuchova, a doctor at the hospital’s child cardiac centre and the 2nd Faculty of Medicine of Charles University.

During the operation, which lasted more than eight hours, the surgical team first had to disconnect the existing assist device that supported the infant’s heart, then remove the entire diseased organ, before transplanting and starting the donor heart.

The hospital had a special case for the baby’s heart, which allowed its transport.

“This is different than in the previous cases, where we had to bring the donor to our hospital, which was not always easy, and do it in a synchronised manner in two operating theatres at the same time,” explained Petr Bukovsky, a cardiac surgeon from the same department, in a video posted on Twitter.

“If there are no complications, the long-term prognosis is favourable,” the hospital said.

Doctors from specialised centres in Prague and Brno transplant hearts to dozens of patients every year. So far, the highest number of heart transplants a year was 87 in 2014, while last year, there were six fewer.

In general, it is more difficult to obtain organs for transplantation for young children because there are fewer donors. In the case of the liver, for example, doctors solve this with a graft from an adult organ.

The first attempt to perform a heart transplant in Czechoslovakia was 55 years ago. The first successful transplant took place 39 years ago.

Czech Doctors Successfully Perform Heart Transplant To 3-Month-Old Infant
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