Boy’s heart transplant a success

2010-11-04 08:09

Twelve-year-old Christiaan Stassen’s heart transplant that took place at the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town yesterday afternoon was a success.

“They have taken him off the bypass and everything is working,” hospital spokesperson Michelle Norris said.

She said Stassen’s operation was completed around 6pm and he would be moved from the theatre to the intensive care unit.

“Everything has gone well.”

Norris said his parents were very relieved and just wanted to rest.

The procedure took about five hours and was done by doctors Willie Koen and Susan Vosloo.

Koen flew to Kimberley yesterday 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.

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

Vosloo started opening up his chest cavity, 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.

Koen was back in Cape Town at 2.35pm with the donor heart, Health24 reported.

The donor heart was transplanted at 4.10pm and started functioning partly.

It 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.

At 4.25pm the heart was beating and the team prepared to remove Christiaan from the heart-lung machine.

Health24 reported at 5.40pm that “the donor heart has completely taken over full circulation and was beating strongly.

“Christiaan has been disconnected from the heart-lung machine.

The operation is over and he has been moved to the intensive care unit.”

Norris said he would be monitored in the ICU for a couple of days and then moved to the general ward, where after a few days he would be discharged to “lead a normal life”.

“The heart was a perfect match,” Norris said.

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