A powerful journey from living with an artificial heart to a heart transplant....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Recent Heart Transplant News

Heart transplant survival rate improving over time; Study finds chances of remaining alive up 20% since 1980 – the Guelph Mercury; written by Anne-Marie Tobin of the Canadian Press; Monday, October 24, 2011

Survival rate improves for heart transplants, Canadian study finds – the Waterloo Region Record; written by Anne-Marie Tobin of the Canadian Press; Monday, October 24, 2011

Health: Heart transplant survival rates improving – the Globe and Mail; written by Anne-Marie Tobin of the Canadian Press; Monday, October 24, 2011


Heart transplants are still anything but ordinary, but doctors these days have a much better handle on the outcomes for this extraordinary type of surgery.

A long-term study to be unveiled Monday at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Vancouver looked at heart transplant results since 1984 at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, covering the follow-up on a total of 461 patients.

"Despite being a very involved and complicated program, heart transplant is a very successful form of treatment," said Dr. Marc Ruel, surgical director of the heart transplant program at the institute.

Without a transplant, he said the patients would not have lived one more year.

But with a transplant, the survival rate over the period of the study was 86 per cent after one year, 75 per cent at five years, 62 per cent at 10 years, and 36 per cent at 20 years.

The younger the patient is at the time of the transplant, the more successful the outcome, the study showed.

"We had a patient who was still followed at 25 years and four months, so that's the longest survival we've had, but many patients are still alive well beyond 20 years, and hopefully we'll have solutions to keep them alive for a long time," Ruel said.

The oldest person receiving a heart transplant in the study period was 74, and the youngest was 18.

Transplants can be done after age 65 with good results, but doctors have to carefully make their selections in order to avoid patients with other significant illnesses that would compromise lifespan or quality of life, he said.

Modern heart transplantation became available in 1980, and the study found that survival rates have improved by more than 20 per cent in the years since.

"Eight-year survival since the 2000s is close to 90 per cent; 89.3 per cent to be exact. So this really sets a very high standard for other series to be compared upon," Ruel remarked.

An international registry of heart transplants finds that survival is expected to be about 67 per cent at seven years, so the results in Ottawa compare favourably.

The first human heart transplant was done by Dr. Christiaan Barnard in South Africa in December 1967. The patient lived for 18 days, and died of pneumonia.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing that - very encouraging for us recipients!