Mechanical heart transplant first in Central and Eastern Europe

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The first mechanical heart transplant in the Czech Republic was successfully completed on a 57-year-old patient, cardiologists announced on Wednesday. The procedure is also the first of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe.

Mechanical heart transplant, photo: CTK
Cardiologists from the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine said the mechanical heart gave a 57-year-old patient a second chance after he came close to dying, which doctors said could have come in days or even hours. The patient, along with more than 45 others, are awaiting heart transplants in the Czech Republic. But, because of the lack of such organs, waiting lists are long and patients can not often wait.

A mechanical heart, which can help the patient live for up to 550 days, gives the patient much needed time until a donor heart can be found for a full heart transplant.

Cardiologist Jan Pirk oversaw the operation.

"Its a difficult operation on the heart when we connect the mechanical heart. We don't remove the patients original heart and the mechanical heart is located outside the body. It helps or replaces the original heart that may not be able to keep the patient alive."

The procedure is not cheap. The mechanical heart itself costs 2 million Czech crowns and the procedure itself costs another 3 million crowns.

Around 10 people die each year in the Czech Republic because they can not wait until a heart is found for a transplant. With the introduction of this procedure in the Czech Republic, doctors hope to save those lives. Since 1987 the Prague Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine has performed 495 heart transplants.