Hospital attempts first heart-lung transplant

Suitable donor match gives Osaka University Hospital green light to attempt first operation of its type in Japan

Kyodo News

The first combined heart and lung transplant in Japan began Saturday evening at Osaka University Hospital, the Tokyo-based Japan Organ Transplant Network said.

The organs were provided by a man in his 30s declared brain dead Friday at Hyogo Emergency Medical Center in Kobe, where he was being treated for head injuries. They will be transplanted into a man, also in his 30s, at Osaka University Hospital in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, a network official said.

Earlier in the day, the man’s heart and lungs were removed for transport to Osaka University Hospital.

The recipient was carefully chosen from a waiting list, and donor’s heart and lungs had to be put through a strict screening process to ensure they were suitable for the operation, which was scheduled to end Saturday night.

The waiting list for heart-lung transplants began in 2003, but the network has given up on past operations because it was unable to confirm that organs were suitable.

In addition, the donor’s liver will be given a man in his 50s in Fukuoka, while the pancreas and a kidney will go to a woman in her 40s in Tokyo and the other kidney will go to a man in his 50s in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, the official said.

The donor also was willing to give up his small intestine, but the network said it couldn’t find a suitable recipient.

The operation is the 79th in Japan to use organs from a brain-dead person based on the Organ Transplant Law, which took effect in October 1997.

The network said there are about 120 patients waiting for hearts and around the same number for lungs, but that four, including the patient at Osaka University Hospital, are in need of both organs.