The heart was only 27 hours

It is a breakthrough and a defeat was at the same time. 50 years ago the first heart transplant in Germany, managed a Team led by the Munich-based doctor Rudolf Zenker. The Operation was run in a “program”, announced Zenker shortly after, The stranger’s heart had been placed in the chest of the patient successfully to the Beat, but 27 hours later, the Patient died. Zenker joined short before the press and read out a statement. He called the organ transplant was a failure and left the room.

Nevertheless, the 13. February 1969 was a historic date for the German transplantation medicine. The first breakthrough Christiaan Barnard in Cape town, South Africa, on 3 was. December 1967 succeeded, as he transplanted the world’s first heart. His Patient survived for 18 days. International had prepared then for several Teams on the step.

The transplanted heart was hurt

“It was all very early,” says Bruno Reichart, 1971 assistant Zenker and mid-eighties in Cape town on Barnard followed. A prerequisite for transplantation, the development of the heart-lung machine. However, the options in the OP as well as in the diagnosis were compared to today, limited.

“You have to give the step great respect, that you made it,” says Reichart. The Doctors had done nothing wrong. You are eminently prepared. “It was a bitter pill for them is not difficult. You don’t have to talk about,” he recalls.

The surgeon Werner Klinner and Fritz Sebening had planned the OP with a 30-member Team under Zenkers line meticulously. The 36-year-old Patient was terminally ill. The complicated surgery was successful. But the strangers of the heart not pumping correctly. It was from a fatally injured 39-Year-old and was for the Doctors at the time not ascertained, were injured in the accident. The post-mortem after the failed Operation revealed that it had formed a small tear in the posterior coronary artery, a blood clot that led to the death of heart patients.

Between Barnard’s first Operation, and the Munich-based intervention in the world a hundred hearts had been transplanted. The results were devastating. Only one Patient, operated on by Barnard, suffered the anniversary of the OP. “The first heart transplants did not trigger a wave of Organ transplants, which were, however, all long-term success,” says the President of the German society for thoracic, heart and vascular surgery (DGTHG), Wolfgang Harringer.

Immature medicines against the rejection

In Germany, the second and the third Patient died after the transplant. “The experiences were not the same for the other: that it worked,” says Reichart. In particular, the medicines against the rejection of the foreign Organs were not fully developed.

Very few Doctors, among them Barnard, and the American surgeon Norman Shumway, continued to operate with increasing success. Most of the other troubled. “The resources for operations were scarce. Many said: Let’s do this, where is the greatest Need,” explains Reichart the mood.

In Germany, a Team led by the Munich-based surgeon Sebening handle after a year-long break in may 1981 at the German heart centre as the first back to the scalpel. New drugs, which are no longer blocked to prevent the rejection of the entire immune system, have brought better results. Other heart centers ventured on the engagement.

300 transplanted hearts per year

In 1983, the first heart-lung Transplantation in Germany, in Reichart in Munich. In 1997, he transplanted the first heart, lung and liver at the same time. This patient lived for eleven years – a sign of the progress in transplantation medicine.

Meanwhile, the heart transplantation is a recognised treatment for seriously ill people. According to the German organ transplantation Foundation (DSO) transplant Doctors in Germany per year of the 300 the heart. Since 1963, more than 13,000 hearts were transplanted. After three years, 70 percent of the heart in the receiver, after ten years, 60 percent beat according to studies. Many patients survive for decades. A sensation of extreme athlete Elmar Sprink, lives since 2012, with the donor heart, and four times since Ironman was the race completed.

Till today, many patients are dying before they get an Organ – the waiting list is long. More than 700 people hope, according to the DSO in Germany to a heart. Federal Minister of health, Jens Spahn (CDU) wants to increase the number of donor organs with new legal regulations.

Also, Doctors are calling for new ways. “We are clearly in favour of the opposition solution in the context of organ donation, how it is regulated, for example already in Austria, by law,” says the heart surgeon and DGTHG-President Harringer.

Pig heart in a human chest?

So far, the human heart is not replaceable. An artificial heart, the drive, the Patient as a suitcase support must, as a transitional solution. Hopes rested early on, on a different solution: animal heart. Doctors experimented so far unsuccessfully, with a monkey heart.

Promising research with genetically engineered pig hearts, which drives Reichart. He and his Team have achieved a milestone: A baboon has survived half a year with a pig heart before the experiment was terminated. Until the first pig’s heart can beat in a human, but will take years. Clinical studies could begin, according to Reichart, at the earliest, in three years – a hope for patients in the distant future.