12-year-old boy to receive new heart

2010-11-03 15:04

JOHANNESBURG – Twelve-year-old Christiaan Stassen is undergoing a life-saving heart transplant at the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon.

“Dr Willie Koen and Dr Susan Vosloo have started the procedure. It will take about five hours,” hospital spokeswoman Michelle Norris said.

“We haven’t heard anything from the doctors yet.”

Norris said Christiaan’s parents, Christiaan senior and Liesel, were waiting in the hospital but did not want to speak to the media as they were very emotional.

Koen flew to Kimberley on Wednesday morning on an emergency flight to fetch the heart of a teenager who had just died, Health24 reported.

In the meantime, the Cape Town team under Vosloo’s supervision prepped the theatre for Christiaan’s operation.

Koen was expected to be back in Cape Town at 3pm with the donor heart.

The donor heart had to start beating within the body of the recipient within four hours from the time it left Kimberley, which was around 1pm, Health24 reported.

From the time it was clamped off, it became a race against time to get the donor heart to Cape Town undamaged, and in time to carry out the transplant.

Christiaan was taken into theatre at 1.45pm as the first part of the operation began.

Vosloo had started opening up his chest cavity and had exposed his heart, and linked him to the heart-lung machine.

The machine would, however, not take over the function of the heart before the donor heart was in the theatre, expected to be at 2:45pm.

The boy’s heart would be removed as quickly as possible and the donor heart would be transplanted.

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