17-day-old infant Owen Monroe becomes the first to receive partial heart transplant in NC

DURHAM, N.C. – Owen Monroe, a 21-month-old boy, has defied all odds after receiving a partial heart transplant in the spring of 2022, becoming the first in the world to undergo this groundbreaking procedure. Born with a lethal heart defect called truncus arteriosus, Owen’s heart had only one artery instead of two. To address this condition, doctors at Duke Health performed a unique surgery, replacing the defective valve and artery with living arteries and valves from a donor baby. These transplanted parts have been growing successfully with Owen’s own heart, resulting in reduced medication requirements. Previously, children with similar conditions had to undergo non-living valve replacement surgeries multiple times, but Owen’s case offers a revolutionary approach that could lead to more heart-saving operations and even domino heart transplants.

The success of Owen’s case has been published in the journal of the American Medical Association by doctors at Duke. Dr. Joseph Turek, one of the physicians involved, highlighted the significance of this breakthrough, emphasizing that it has the potential to double the number of pediatric transplant recipients. Additionally, it offers hope to children waiting for a heart transplant under the age of one, as the likelihood of receiving a transplant at this age is only 80%. The Monroes, Owen’s parents, expressed their belief that Owen has a purpose and will continue to make an impact on the world. The remarkable outcome of Owen’s procedure demonstrates the immense potential for further advances in life-saving surgeries for children with congenital heart diseases.

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