Heart and Lung Transplant
Shabir Bhimji, MD
Michael B McDonnell, MD
William K Mallon, MD
Kathryn L Hale, MS, PA-C
Alan D Forker, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Jonathan Adler, MD
Heart and Lung Transplant Overview
A pioneering heart surgeon, Dr Christiaan Barnard, performed the first successful human-to-human heart transplant operation in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa. Unfortunately, early operations resulted in problems such as infection and rejection, and heart recipients did not survive very long.
With advances in technique and development of new drugs to suppress the immune system, more than 70% of transplant recipients currently survive more than 3 years. The problem now is a severe shortage of donor hearts in the United States. Each year, thousands of people are waiting for a heart. About 35% of them die before a heart becomes available. Only about 2,000 heart transplants are done each year in North America, the major reason is lack of donors.
Because of the severe shortage of organs, combined heart and lung transplants are rare (less than 20 per year are done in North America).
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