First Belgian patient receives heart transplant with new preservation technology

  • 21:24

Today UZ Leuven published a press release “First Belgian patient that received a heart transplant with new preservation technology”XVIVO Heart technology.

This autumn, a heart transplant was performed for the first time in Belgium at UZ Leuven, using a new storage technique. Thanks to this technique, a donor heart can be stored almost five times longer, which leads to a lower mortality risk after surgery. The procedure is part of an international study led by UZ Leuven. The technique is an important evolution in the preservation of donor hearts.

The new technique increases the chance of successful transplant. “When a donor heart is kept on ice, the risk of serious heart failure increases once the heart is out of the body for more than three hours. With the preservation technology, a constant ideal temperature can be maintained and we can administer extra nutrients. The heart can be stored for up to 24 hours and continues to function properly afterwards, ”says Professor Filip Rega, member of the cardiac surgery staff at UZ Leuven, who performed the transplant.

“Transplant surgeons are facing a number of problems today. On one hand, there is a great shortage of donor organs. On the other hand, there is also a great need for a way to keep donor hearts longer. “Today we transplant patients with much more complex conditions than before. They often underwent several open-heart surgeries before their transplant. This makes the transplant more difficult and the donor heart has to be kept outside the body for longer. This new study offers a solution for this, ”concludes Professor Van Cleemput, cardiology staff member at UZ Leuven and medical responsible for the heart transplant program.

To read the full press release, click here

As XVIVO previously has reported, the first patient was included to the clinical trial “Non-ischemic Preservation of the Donor Heart in Heart Transplantation” (NIHP 2019) during autumn 2020.

“We are very excited about this trial really getting started, especially in this difficult year for healthcare workers. We are truly convinced that, more than 50 years after the first heart transplantation, the heart transplantation community needs this game-changing technology”, says Professor Filip Rega from the University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium, who is the principal investigator.