Echocardiography 'could increase number of usable donor hearts'

6 December 2012

Hearts that have previously been rejected for transplant could now be declared viable for transplantation using pharmacological stress echo, according to new research.

There are many patients with end-stage heart failure who are waiting for an organ but cannot get one due to a severe shortage of donors.

Furthermore, the average age of organ donors has increased, and the donor often died of a stroke, meaning that every year in Europe there are around 4,500 hearts from donors that go unused.

"Many of these hearts could be used if we could increase confidence that the transplantation would be successful," said Dr Tonino Bombardini.

He said that doctors are often hesitant to transplant hearts from older donors, and the use of echocardiography to pick out hearts "too good to die" could help to push up numbers of usable organs.

The doctor added that an upward shift of the donor age cut-off limit from 55 to 65 years could be carried out if a stress echocardiography screening on the donor heart comes back as normal.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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