Heart Transplants – How is the Mater doing?

Heart transplant units ‘should close’
The number of heart transplant units in Britain should be cut, because
far fewer such operations are taking place today, say cardiac doctors.

By Stephen Adams, Medical Correspondent

The number of operations carried out per year has dropped by almost
half (46 per cent) over the last decade, they point out, so surgeons
at Britain’s six units are struggling to get enough practice.

Writing online in the British Medical Journal today (FRI), three heart
doctors from the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne say: “It is
difficult for surgeons in the six UK units to maintain their
expertise, so the number of units may need to be reduced.”

In the UK, transplants are carried out in six centres – Harefield
Hospital in London, Papworth near Cambridge, the Queen Elizabeth
Hospital in Birmingham, Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, the
Freeman Hospital and the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow.

Transplants for children are carried out at Great Ormond Street in
London and also in Harefield and Newcastle.

Guy MacGowan, a consultant cardiologist at the Freeman Hospital, the
lead author of the opinion piece, said “a couple” might need to close.
He would not say which ones.
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The number of operations had been limited by the number of available
donor hearts he said, which was partly caused by better road safety
and partly by the “relatively small number” of intensive care beds.

The Department for Health is due to conduct a review of cardiothoracic
transplantation in the near future.