MUSC Surgeons Perform First DCD Heart Transplant in South Carolina

December 05, 2022
Heart transplant
Fellow Krishna Bhandari, M.D. (left), and lead surgeon Arman Kilic, M.D. (right), performed the first DCD heart transplant at MUSC. Credit: Scott Garrand

Arman Kilic, M.D., surgical director of the MUSC Heart Failure and Heart Transplant Program, led the surgical team who transplanted the first heart in South Carolina obtained by donation after circulatory death (DCD). They worked in partnership with Transmedics, a medical device company that created an ex vivo perfusion machine to keep organs functional and healthy during their journey from donor to recipient.

Dr. Kilic explained that organs obtained by DCD have previously posed challenges because of questions about functional quality, ethical considerations and logistical issues. “With the Transmedics system we can now safely use DCD organs,” he said. “And we can also use the system to utilize brain-dead donors that have high risk criteria.” Both options will allow MUSC to expand access to donor organs for the many patients who need them.

Because there is a severe gap between supply and demand for donor organs — about 3,500 heart transplants were performed in the U.S. this year, but the waitlist grew by more than 4,300 patients in the same period — access to more organs stands to close that gap significantly. Projections anticipate a national increase of 20-30% with this new technology.Ryan Tedford, M.D., medical director of heart transplantation at MUSC, predicts this effect at MUSC as well.“MUSC already offers a premier advanced heart failure center,” he said. “We transplanted almost 60 hearts last year, and we expect continued growth this year with the use of DCD hearts.”

For patients who are not candidates for transplantation, MUSC offers many other life-sustaining options as well. For example, the surgical team implanted 49 left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), or heart pumps, in the past year.

Read the Full Article in Progressnotes