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The human heart crossed the Atlantic. For the first time in history

This is the first heart transplant of this kind. It was carried out successfully after the donor heart was transported across the Atlantic Ocean, The Lancet reported. And all this on a commercial plane.

The procedure, which had just been described in a popular medical magazine, took place at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital of the University of Paris, France in January 2024. The route taken by the donor organ was unusual. He set out on a journey with… French West Indies (French Antilles). The distance between these two places is approx seven thousand kilometers! But what was most extraordinary was the heart's journey to transplant. The organ traveled in the cabin commercial airline plane Air France.

The donor was a 48-year-old man who was declared brain dead 3 days after intracerebral hemorrhage. His heart was harvested according to routine procedures, and ex-vivo hypothermic, oxygenated cardiac perfusion was initiated 16 minutes after aortic transection. Maintenance (12 h 6 min) and perfusion (10 h 32 min) were uneventful despite severe turbulence.

The recipient is a 70-year-old man with terminal ischemic cardiomyopathy and chronic renal failure. After transplantation the heart immediately achieved normal biventricular function without any graft dysfunction. The patient was extubated ten hours after surgery, had two days of continuous renal replacement therapy, and was weaned from inotropic support on day five.

This logistical success will change the approach to transplantology. Now distance and time will no longer be such limitations as it once was. Much of this is due to a machine that continuously pumps oxygenated fluid through the heart. During the experiment, it was also decided to choose a commercial carrier instead of a private jet to show that Organ transport does not have to be expensive.

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