Surgery (illustrative)
Surgery (illustrative)Flash 90

A 54-year-old man died at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital Monday during a complex operation to transplant a human heart from a dead donor.

The patient had received a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, three and a half years ago as a temporary measure to keep his heart functioning while he waited for a compatible heart to become available after suffering heart failure which would become terminal.

A LVAD is a mechanical pump which is implanted in an individual's chest to help a weakened heart pump blood.

An infection developed in the area of the LVAD over the last year, increasing the urgency of his need for a heart transplant.

Last night (Sunday), the patient was summoned to the hospital after a compatible heart was received.

"The complexity [of the operation] stems not only from the need to remove the LVAD from the chest, but from the infection and scar tissue from the [previous] surgery," Haddasah hospital stated.

During the operation, the surgeons encountered pockets of pus and severe adhesions. The patient's condition deteriorated, and the doctors fought for hours to save him. In the end, their efforts to wean him from the heart-lung machine failed and he died.

Heart-transplants involving the replacement of artificial hearts or parts of hearts have higher mortality rates than other heart surgeries. The patient and his family knew in advance of the increased risk of the surgery.

"Hadassah has been working for many years with teams of experts in organ transplants and in various types of transplant surgery, with a success that is no less than that reported in the medical literature on the subect. Unfortunately, this patient was one of those 'statistics.' The hospital shares the family's sorrow and reported the incident to the Health Ministry," the hospital said.