What is living donor heart transplant ? Domino heart transplantation

Domino heart transplantation - Representative image
Domino heart transplantation – Representative image

Living donor heart transplant – domino heart transplantation

Summary: Domino heart transplantation is a unique living donor heart transplantation. Donor receives heart lung transplantation and the recipient receives the heart removed from the donor. Thus both are alive, unlike in conventional heart transplant in which the donor is no more. Of course the heart lung donor has deceased.

Heart transplantation has been around for half a century ever since the first successful human heart transplantation by Dr. Christiaan Barnard on 3rd December, 1967. Even after half a century, heart transplantation in a new center hits the newspaper headlines. This is often accompanied by vivid description of the brave and fast transfer of the donor heart from a deceased person to the recipient, sometime in another city.

It is seldom that we think of a living donor heart transplantation. It is not that a living person donates a heart heart and dies, but he continues to live. How is that possible? That is the concept of domino heart transplantation. There are some persons who need a heart lung transplantation because of lung disease causing poor functioning of the heart. Most common such reason is a condition known as primary pulmonary hypertension, in which the blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lung become very high. When that person receives a heart lung transplantation, the original heart of that person is transplanted to another person who needs it due to terminal heart disease. This is known as domino heart transplantation.

One might wonder whether the heart from a domino donor, with some problem due to pre-existing disease might benefit the recipient. But studies show good survival with domino heart transplantation. In one study, 60% of domino heart transplant recipients survived more than 10 years.