First Heart Transplant and Know the Risks

Perhaps many people still don’t know that the world’s first heart transplant occurred with a doctor named Christian Barnard, in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa. Below is complete information.

Heart organ transplantation aims to get a chance to live longer, especially for patients suffering from severe heart damage. The patient received a heart from a recently deceased donor whose heart was still in good condition.

However, heart transplantation is not recommended for patients with certain conditions. A person whose heart is to be transplanted must be an appropriate recipient candidate. For more detailed information, see the explanation below.

What is a Heart Transplant?

A heart transplant is a medical procedure for removing a heart that is not working optimally or failing to function, then replacing this heart with a healthy donor heart. Usually donors are from recently deceased people.

Transplantation or grafting occurs when medication and other treatment methods are no longer effective in treating heart problems. Although post-transplantation requires regular examinations to determine the patient’s condition.

In patients with heart failure, transplantation is a hope of survival. Patients who have undergone a heart transplant will usually try to maintain heart health with a healthy diet and quality lifestyle.

Even though it sounds scary, heart transplantation requires action for safety and to improve the quality of life for people with heart failure. The transplant process is also safe as long as the patient undergoes regular examinations.

Know the History of the First Heart Transplant

Heart transplantation is the final treatment step for people with heart failure. Usually replacement hearts come from donors who have died due to accidents, brain hemorrhages, head injuries, strokes and certain conditions

According to history, the first heart transplant was performed in 1967 at Groote Schuur Hospital, a hospital in South Africa. The heart transplant was carried out by a team of doctors headed by Dr. Christian Barnard.

The person who received a heart transplant was Louis Washkansky (53 years old) with chronic heart disease. Meanwhile, the person who donated the heart was Denise Darvall (25 years), who was seriously injured in an accident.

This heart transplant process was successful in 9 hours by a team of doctors consisting of 30 professionals. However, Washkansky could only survive 18 days and was declared dead due to pneumonia caused by immunosuppressant drugs.

Nevertheless, the success of this first heart transplant still received praise from all over the world. This made Christiaan Barnard’s name become famous.

Read More : What You Should Know about Heart Transplant

Who Needs a Heart Transplant?

Heart transplantation is usually for patients who have advanced heart failure. This condition causes the heart to fail to pump blood throughout the body with symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and swollen legs.

Most heart transplant recipients experience chronic heart failure. However, only special patients are offered a transplant because of the greater life expectancy. You may consider a heart transplant if you have conditions such as:

  • Having severe heart failure
  • The chance of survival is low if you don’t get a donor heart
  • The condition is healthy enough to undergo surgery and treatment
  • Willing to take part in a medical program from a team of doctors
  • The patient does not smoke

Meanwhile, heart transplantation is not recommended for patients suffering from heart disease or heart failure with the following conditions:

  • History of cancer or high-risk diseases
  • Advanced age affects recovery ability
  • Have other illnesses, severe infections, or obesity

What are the risks of a heart transplant?

As is known, the first heart transplant was successful but the patient only survived for 18 days. At that time, many people thought that the heart transplant method had quite high risks.

However, heart transplantation was one of the greatest advances and achievements of modern medicine at that time, resulting in many patients surviving longer. The risks of having a heart transplant are:

1. Side Effects of Treatment

After a successful heart transplant, the patient must take immunosuppressant drugs throughout his life. However, this drug has side effects that can cause kidney damage. Therefore, drink according to doctor’s instructions.

2. Infection

Consuming immunosuppressant drugs works by suppressing the immune system. When the immune system is weakened, infections will be difficult to cure. Therefore, it is important to check your heart health condition regularly.

3. Cancer

As a result of a decreased immune system, the potential for cancer can increase due to consumption of immunosuppressant drugs. The type of cancer that is most at risk during heart transplant treatment is non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

4. Arterial Problems

Hardening of the arteries is a risk after patients have a heart transplant. When the arteries have problems, this condition will make blood circulation in the heart not run smoothly, which can trigger heart disease.

5. Rejection of the New Heart by the Body

The biggest risk after a heart transplant is the body’s rejection of the new heart. Therefore, doctors recommend that patients take prescribed immunosuppressant drugs and undergo regular examinations.

Heart Transplant Procedure

The main goal of heart transplantation is safety and improving the patient’s quality of life. With a heart transplant, the chance of living longer. The procedure for performing a heart transplant is as follows:

1. Finding the Right Donor

Finding the right heart donor is not easy, many factors need to be considered related to heart size, blood type, and the condition of the donor recipient.

Donors come from people who have recently died with a heart that is still in good condition. The process of transferring the heart from donor to recipient should not exceed 4 hours, this is so that the heart continues to function properly.

2. Removing the Donor Recipient’s Heart

After finding a heart donor, the doctor then carries out the procedure to remove the recipient’s heart. This appointment process takes time according to the level of difficulty, and depends on the recipient’s heart health history.

For hearts that have undergone several surgical operations, it generally takes longer and is more difficult to remove.

3. Installing a Heart from a Donor

After the recipient’s heart has been successfully removed, the donor heart is then placed into the recipient. In general, the process of heart implantation or attachment is quite easy compared to the process of strengthening the heart.

The implantation process aims to connect the large blood vessels in the new heart to the blood vessels that carry blood throughout the body.

Read More : Artificial Heart: History And Interesting Information

When is a Heart Transplant Necessary?

Heart transplantation can occur when a patient suffers from end-stage heart failure, whose life expectancy is less than 1 year without a heart transplant. So, you can carry out a heart transplant according to the procedure.

According to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, heart transplantation is recommended for patients with refractory cardiogenic shock, refractory ventricular arrhythmias and congenital heart failure.

So, for people who suffer from heart failure and want to have a transplant, you should first consult with a doctor. The doctor will check the condition of the heart to see if it is possible and according to the requirements for heart transplant surgery.

This is information about the history of the first heart transplant and the risks that you need to know. That way, there are obstacles for patients who want to undergo a transplant and require further examination from a doctor.

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