Jan 24

Latest Medical News: Partial Heart Transplant of an Infant


Wellnest brings you the latest medical news where an infant successfully received a partial heart transplant! In a remarkable leap forward for pediatric cardiac care, a groundbreaking partial heart transplant procedure has emerged as a beacon of hope for infants facing severe congenital heart conditions.

This innovative technique not only provides functional heart valves for neonates but also offers the promise of lifelong solutions, transforming the landscape of pediatric heart surgeries.

The Case:

The surgical feat unfolded on the 18th day of life for a 5-pound newborn boy diagnosed prenatally with persistent truncus arteriosus and severe truncal valve dysfunction. Unlike traditional approaches relying on non-viable cadaver grafts, this procedure involved the transplantation of a portion of the heart, specifically containing the aorta and pulmonary valves, sourced from an infant donor upon cardiac death.

The Donor and Procedure:

The donor, a 2-day-old female weighing 8 pounds, played a pivotal role in this extraordinary medical endeavor. Despite a delivery complicated by hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, echocardiography revealed structurally normal and functioning outflow heart valves. This unique case presented an opportunity to utilize the heart after cardiac death through standard surgical techniques.

The surgical team skillfully dissected the pulmonary artery ostia and coronary artery buttons, preparing for the intricate transplant. The irreparable truncal valve of the recipient infant was excised with precision, making way for the transplantation of the donor’s aortic and pulmonary valves.

The transplantation process followed a strategic procedure. The donor’s aortic root was transplanted first, leveraging donor tissue to close the ventricular septal defect. Subsequently, the coronary artery buttons were reimplanted, enhancing the structural integrity of the transplant.

The right ventricular outflow tract was meticulously enlarged, ensuring optimal function. Finally, the pulmonary root was transplanted, completing the intricate procedure. Postoperative immunosuppression was administered meticulously to facilitate the successful adaptation and integration of the transplanted valves.

This groundbreaking procedure not only showcased surgical expertise but also highlighted the importance of utilizing donor hearts that might be considered unsuitable for traditional full-heart transplants.

The innovative approach of repurposing hearts, such as those with poor ventricular function or from recipients of full heart transplants (domino hearts), adds a layer of complexity to the surgical landscape, paving the way for new opportunities and solutions in pediatric cardiac care.

Long-Term Success:

At the 14-month follow-up, the transplanted valves exhibited no signs of obstruction or insufficiency, indicating a remarkable success in functional longevity. Approaching 21 months post-surgery, the recipient continues to thrive, achieving various developmental milestones. This sustained success not only underscores the viability of this novel technique but also brings renewed hope to families facing congenital heart challenges.

Partial Heart Transplants for a Lifetime:

The rationale behind partial heart transplants lies in the inherent growth potential of pediatric hearts. In contrast to full heart transplants, where ventricular dysfunction is an inevitable concern, partial transplants spare the native ventricles, making them poised to last a lifetime. This paradigm shift opens up new avenues for addressing a myriad of congenital heart conditions characterized by valves that are either undersized or poorly functioning.

Expanding Applications:

Beyond the initial case of truncus arteriosus, subsequent partial heart transplants have been successfully performed for infants with diverse congenital heart conditions. From aortic stenosis to tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia and biventricular outflow tract obstruction, the versatility of this innovative technique promises tailored solutions for a broad spectrum of cardiac challenges in pediatric patients.

Challenges and Opportunities:

While the success of partial heart transplants is evident, challenges persist, primarily centered around organ availability. The procedure ingeniously repurposes hearts that would otherwise be deemed unsuitable for full heart transplants, such as those with poor ventricular function or hearts removed from recipients of full heart transplants (domino hearts). Despite the current limitations in availability, the potential for doubling heart utilization through domino heart procedures presents a compelling opportunity to significantly impact the lives of children with heart diseases.


Since its monumental debut in 2022, partial heart transplants have been performed 13 times across various medical centers, with Duke University Medical Center taking a prominent role in this transformative journey. This pioneering technique and other health tech advancements like Wellnest 12L Std 2 mark a significant stride in pediatric cardiac care.

The Wellnest 12L's portability makes it a good choice for pre-operative ECGs in infants, as it allows for easier use compared to standard hospital machines. It works with pediatric ECG bulbs and patches that are designed to be gentle on a baby's delicate skin. This can help to make the ECG process more comfortable for both the infant and the parents. The Wellnest 12L's small size and lightweight design make it much easier to use on an infant than a traditional ECG machine. This can help to minimize stress and movement, which can interfere with the quality of the ECG recording.

As these revolutionary equipment and procedures gain momentum, they spark optimism for a future where pediatric cardiac care reaches unprecedented heights, reshaping the narrative for the youngest hearts in need.