The heart transplant procedure: Why is it so effective?

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Heart transplant

Organ failure is the failure of an essential system in the body when the organ does not perform its expected function. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood through to meet the body's needs for blood and oxygen. (About Heart Failure, 2015) The blood carries nutrients, hormones and waste products around the body and if the flow of blood stops, other organs would not work and slowly the body would and so won’t the body.

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(OPTN, 2015)

What causes Heart (organ) failure?

There are many symptoms causing Heart failures. The most common causes of heart failure are coronary heart disease (CHD), high blood pressure, and diabetes (National Heart,Lung, and blood institute, 2014) About 5.1 million people in the United States have heart failure. (CDC, 2014)

A person may require a heart transplant for several reasons when the both the one or both ventricles have aren't functioning properly and severe heart failure is present, heart transplant will be necessary. Coronary Heart Disease, plaque (plak) builds up inside the coronary arteries, reduces the blood flow to your heart muscle creating blood clots and blocking the blood flow. Also blood pressure can affect the heart because if the blood pressure rises and stays high over time, it can weaken your heart and lead to plaque build-up. Diabetes, high blood sugar levels, can damage and weaken the heart muscle and the blood vessels around the heart, leading to heart failure

Problems with organ (heart) failure?

Organ failure is a very important to solve because if one organ does not perform its functions properly, it could lead to serious issues. Heart is an organ which helps circulating the blood around the body is very important to keep healthy to live. Also there are much more problems with heart failure such as shortness of breath, coughing and rapid weight gain.

Shortness of breath is noted during activity or at rest, especially when you lie down flat in bed. The shortness of breath occurs because blood in the body backs up in the blood vessels that return blood from the lungs to the heart due to the heart not pumping blood out of the heart effectively. This causes fluid to leak into the lungs, also known as congestion. The congestion in your lungs and lack of oxygen may make you feel tired and short of breath. (Heart failure matters, 2014)

The coughing or wheezing is due to the fluid accumulation, when there is too much fluid in blood circulation around the body and congestion the pressure rises in the blood vessels, or congestion, in the lungs, which increases the effort of breathing (Heart failure matters, 2014) Rapid weight gain is very common for people with heart failure. If your heart failure is causing fluid accumulation, you will gain weight. (Heart failure matters, 2014)


There are many ways to solve them, for example organ transplant, stem cells, organ on a chip technology, xenotransplantation and artificial organ. Most of these technologies are new so they and are not used that much but organ transplant is the most reliable technology to solve Heart failure. Organ transplant is an operation of moving an organ from one organism (the donor) to another (the recipient). The first SUCCESSFUL human heart transplant occurred in 1967, December 3 in South Africa. (MOT, 2014) In 2012, a total of 2,225 transplant procedures were performed, an increase of nearly 5% over 2011. The number of transplants performed has increased annually over the last four years. The 2,225 transplant procedures performed in 2012 in which 164 were heart transplants. (Canadian institute for Health information, 2013)


The first organ transplant attempt was in 1901 and it took 50 years for a successful transplant. In the past 65 years, organ transplant have improved by a lot. Before the organ was removed from the body and was stored in a non-functioning state, with no blood circulation, decreasing the chances of the new organ to function properly but then Transmedics invented a new technology called the ‘Organ Care system’. With this technology, doctors are able to perform “living organ transplants,” where organs are kept warm and functioning in a controlled environment from the time they are recovered to the moment they are placed in the recipient’s body. (Transmedics, 2015) Approximately 85 to 90 percent of heart transplant patients are living one year after their surgery, the three-year survival approaches 75 percent. (Uptodate, 2015)

Doctors have to follow the procedure to have a successful organ transplant. The patient is placed inside a heart-lung machine, cardiopulmonary bypass pump to keep blood circulating throughout the body. Then a cut (incision) is made over your breastbone and the bone separated, allowing the surgeon to access your heart. Your heart is removed, leaving behind a portion of the right and left atria (the two upper chambers of the heart). The new heart is then connected to the aorta (main artery from the heart), pulmonary artery and the remaining part of the atria. Once the donor heart is stitch, the patient will be removed from the heart-lung machine and the new heart starts pumping. Survival after a heart transplant is not necessary, 10% of the patients were not able to survive for even 1 year. (Heart transplant surgery safe and effective, 2015)

There is also a chance of the new heart to fail, for the same reason that the patients old heart did, needing a retransplant. The body can also reject the new organ so medication is very important. Taking daily medicines stops the immune system from attacking the new heart. The medication cyclosporine and other medicines can damage the kidney, affecting more than 25 percent of patients in the first year after transplant. (National Heart,Lung, and blood institute, 2014)

Economical factor is affected because of heart transplants.

If the number of patients in the country increases the economy will be impacted beneficially as there will be more revenue generated. Earlier statistics showed that only 19,000 organ transplants were completed for the 50,000 on the waiting list, Multiplying 19,000 patients by an average cost of $140,000 per transplant generates $2.7 billion dollars of health services. (Impact of organ transplantation on Economy, 2014) This will lead to an increased GDP of the country, thus more investments and more taxes, the more the taxes, the better for the citizens as government will have more to spend on the services to provide.

Despite advances in medicine and technology, and increased awareness of organ donation and transplantation, the gap between supply and demand continues to widen because of ECONOMICAL issues.

Over 81,000 patients are on the wait-list for transplantation in the United States today and more than 5000 will die this year without receiving a transplant. (Organ donation data, 2015) A 1995 study of families of donor-eligible patients found that 86.5% were asked to donate but only 47.3% gave consent. Countries like France, India, USA, UK, etc. have started to address reimbursement of non-medical expenses BUT some countries such as Portugal, Argentina and Turkey considers these forms of payments as unethical. 21 people are dying every day because there are not enough donors.

Donors are affected by travel and accommodation, medical, lost income and home productivity. At UK transplant center, average cost of travel and accommodation is $1,720 (Garg, Vlaicu, & Yang, 2006) Job security is very important and in the process of an organ donation at least 41-57 days is required. Kidney donation caused 8% of the donors to either be fired or resigned. 10% of family members reported lost wages, thus no money for home. For the low income workers, heart transplant becomes unaffordable making them take a loan from the bank, a liability for their while life.

Even though there are a lot of economic problem with organ transplant but the government can help these donors with all their expenses with the increasing economy. Organ transplant is very important for organ failure as it is the easiest and the most reliable way to solve it.