The technique could expand the pool of donors for heart transplants by about 25 per cent / Getty Images

Recipient, Huseyin Ulucan, 60, said he was “feeling stronger every day”

Surgeons in Cambridgeshire have performed Europe’s first heart transplant using a non-beating heart.

Usually, heart transplants are carried out using donors who are brain-stem dead, but whose hearts are still beating.

However, surgeons at the Papworth Hospital were able to restart the heart of a donor whose was clinically dead, test that it was functioning properly and transplant into a patient. 

It is hoped that the technique could expand the pool of donors for heart transplants by about 25 per cent – saving many lives.

The recipient, Huseyin Ulucan, 60, from London, who suffered a heart attack in 2008, said he was “feeling stronger every day”, since the surgery.

 

Kidneys, lungs and livers from non-beating heart donors are already used, but the heart is not used amid concerns it could suffer damage in the process.

The new procedure involved restoring blood supply to the heart five minutes after death. After restarting surgeons ensured it was functioning properly before removing it and transferring to a ‘heart-in-a-box’ machine that keeps the organ nourished ready for transplantation. 

In the past year there have been 171 heart transplants in the UK, but supply of donor organs outstrips demand and many patients die waiting for a transplant.

Surgeons in Australia became the first to transplant a so-called ‘dead’ heart last year.

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