In a groundbreaking medical achievement, 18-day-old Owen Monroe became the first recipient of a partial heart transplant in 2022. The infant, weighing only 5 pounds at the time, made history with this life-saving procedure. Doctors at Duke Health successfully used a new method for valve procurement during the surgery, leading to two properly functioning valves and arteries in Monroe’s little heart. This groundbreaking approach has now been conducted 13 times at four global centers, with Duke Health alone conducting nine instances.
The findings of this procedure were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, confirming the success of this new technology. Dr. Joseph W. Turek, the study’s first author and Duke’s chief of pediatric cardiac surgery, expressed his belief that this method can be used to help other children with heart disease. Notably, this technique requires less medication compared to a full heart transplant, reducing potential long-term side effects.
This innovative breakthrough also opens the door to the possibility of domino heart transplants, where one heart can save two lives. By passing on the healthy valves from a patient who undergoes a full heart transplant, the number of hearts available for children with heart disease can potentially double. With the success of this procedure at Duke Health and other global centers, it is evident that this medical advancement has the potential to make a substantial change in the field of pediatric cardiac surgery.