Using smaller hearts could increase donor pool

04/23/04

The donor heart pool could be expanded by including undersized hearts, according to a study presented today at the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation. The research team, led by Satoshi Furukawa, M.D., associate professor of surgery at Temple University School of Medicine and surgical director of heart transplant at Temple University Hospital, compared the growth and adaptability of undersized hearts to normal-sized donor hearts in heart transplant recipients over a 10-year period and found no significant differences.

It's generally believed that for a heart transplant to be successful, the donor heart must match in size to the heart transplant recipient.

"In our study, we found that undersized hearts adapted by increasing in mass. Further, there were no significant differences in function, capacity or survival rates between those patients who received undersized hearts and those who received normal-sized hearts. These findings suggest to us that the heart donor pool could be expanded by including undersized hearts," said Furukawa.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, 2,055 heart transplants were performed in the United States last year. There are currently 3,490 people on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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