13 November 2018

Royal Papworth Hospital’s pioneering DCD heart transplant programme reached a significant milestone when clinicians used the new life-saving technique on the 50th patient.

The transplant took place in October, and since then surgeons and physicians have added to the figure – taking the total number of non-beating heart transplants to 51.

Mr Stephen Large and Mr Steven Tsui, both surgeons at Royal Papworth Hospital, spent many years researching the possibility of using donor hearts from a new group of donors – known as non-beating heart donors – to significantly increase the number of people able to benefit from a transplant. Previously surgeons were only able to transplant beating hearts from donors once they were certified brain dead.

In 2015, thanks to funding from Royal Papworth Hospital Charity, the Royal Papworth team successfully performed Europe’s first heart transplant using a DCD (Donation after Circulatory Death) donor heart, and the procedure has since helped to increase heart transplantation at the hospital by more than a third.

According to a recent study, outcomes for patients receiving a DCD heart transplant, which involves resuming partial circulation to the donor heart up to 30-40 minutes after death, are comparable to those receiving a DBD (Donation after Brain Death) organ.

Mr Pedro Catarino, Clinical Lead for Transplantation, said: “These are people who simply wouldn’t be here without this treatment. DCD represents about 40 per cent of our activity now, and has transformed our service – offering a much needed new stream of donor organs, and hope to many more people on the transplant waiting list.”

In October, surgeons also performed Royal Papworth Hospital’s 250th single lung transplant, and also the 500th bilateral lung transplant.

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, please telephone 0300 123 23 23, or go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk / www.organdonationscotland.org to register online.