February 22, 2021

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British girl receives heart revived outside body

Freya Heddington’s world was turned upside down two years ago when she was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy.The heart condition causes tiredness, chest pain and breathing problems, and Freya was going to need a heart transplant.The 14 year old expected to have to wait two years for the procedure, but it ended up being just two months.”I am ecstatic that I got such an amazing gift,” she said. “But it’s also upsetting to know that someone also died.”Freya received a new heart thanks to pioneering technology which capitalises on harvesting hearts from a range of donors.Usually the vital organ is taken from patients who are brain dead but their hearts are still beating.But a new procedure, first done at a hospital in Cambridge in 2015, retrieves adult donor hearts that have been allowed to stop beating on their own after life support has been withdrawn.A special device is able to then restart the heart and ensure it is healthy before it is transplanted into a patient.Initially, the procedure was only available to adults in need of transplants, but the Royal Papworth hospital has since teamed up with Great Ormond Street Hospital to ensure children can also benefit from it.Transplant surgeon Marius Bergman says more lives have been saved, “In other words, we double the amount of heart transplantation and we reduce the waiting time period and we had to do the exactly same thing for the paediatric recipients and at the same time, for both populations to reduce the mortality in the waiting list, that’s what we achieved.”Freya is one of six British youngsters to have received a new heart using the procedure.Only four others have been carried out worldwide.



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