This is the first time in Spain that a baby’s organs were transplanted to another toddler after a controlled cardiac arrest
In a pioneering surgery in Spain that is unusual throughout Europe in general, doctors at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona recently transplanted two healthy lungs from a terminally ill baby to a child under two years old that was suffering from a congenital heart disease. Experts at the hospital explained that the procedure is extremely rare in children, given that such small organs can’t last very long without oxygen and success is far from guaranteed. It is the first time a transplant of its kind has been carried out in Spain.
In this situation, the terminally ill baby was transferred to the operating room after medics had withdrawn his life support and doctors waited for his heart to stop beating before immediately removing the lungs. In this case of ‘controlled cardiac arrest’, the lungs are better preserved and have a greater chance of being accepted by the recipient baby. It is a technique that opens the door to new options in paediatric lung transplantation, according to the experts.
Despite the success of the first procedure, the most difficult part, transplanting the lungs into the toddler, was still to come. Doctors at the hospital explained that, due to the nature of his illness, the paediatric cardiac surgery team first had to work to remodel his heart before the lungs could be transplanted.
Thankfully, the operation was a success, and after three months in the ICU, the little boy walked out of the hospital with his father, who explained that the toddler currently has a nasogastric tube inserted to feed him but that this will be removed shortly, and that overall he is just a happy, energetic little boy leading a normal life.
Alberto Jáuregui, head of the Thoracic Surgery and Lung Transplant Service of Vall d’Hebron Hospital, explained that, while the need for lung transplants in children is much rarer than in the adult population, there are youngsters on the waiting lists, and the hope is that this breakthrough surgery will pave the way for surgeons to save even more young lives.
Source: Murcia Today