Doctors at Duke University Hospital became the first in the United States to perform a new type of heart transplant this week.
This new procedure allows donor hearts to be used five minutes after circulation in the body stops. This is possible due to device that keeps the heart beating after circulation stops. Typically, heart transplants happen after a donor is pronounced brain dead.
Doctor Jacob Schroder, surgical director of Duke's Heart Transplant Program, performed the surgery at Duke and says data shows the procedure will increase the donor pool for heart transplants by 30%.
“It's going to decrease the wait-list time for patients," says Shroder. "It’s going to decrease the number of patients who die awaiting a heart transplant."
Schroder says the recipient of the heart transplant, a military veteran, is recovering well. A number of European countries already use the procedure with mostly positive results. The process is commonly used to donate other organs including kidneys or lungs.