Vatican Children’s Hospital performs first heart transplant from Covid positive donor
By Vatican News staff writer
Marking a world first, the Bambino Gesù Hospital has performed an organ transplant from a SARS-CoV-2 positive donor to a negative patient.
According to a press release issued by the Vatican’s Children’s Hospital, the 15-year-old boy, who received a new heart, was treated with monoclonal antibodies to eliminate the risk that he might develop Covid-19. The communiqué explained that the procedure required the approval of both the National Transplant Centre (NTC) and the Italian Pharmaceutical Agency (AIFA).
Bambino Gesù’s Professor Antonino Amodeo explained that "in the paediatric field it is more complicated to find a compatible heart for a transplant than it is for adults. In the last year, due to the pandemic and the restrictions adopted to fight the spread of the virus, these difficulties have further increased. Finding a compatible heart for a transplant is often a unique opportunity. That's why we did everything we could so that the boy on the waiting list could get the organ he was waiting for. It's a choice that can make the difference between life and death."
The 15-year-old patient who underwent the heart transplant had dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that impairs the heart's ability to efficiently pump blood to the body. The frequency of the disease in the general adult population is about 1 in 2,500 cases, but in children it is considered rare, with 0.57 cases per 100,000 people.
The teenager had been on the transplant waiting list since September of last year. His conditions had worsened and he had undergone surgery to implant an artificial heart, “a life-saving bridge solution while waiting for a compatible heart for a transplant.”
6 heart transplants in 2 weeks
In just two weeks, from 4 to 19 May, the medical teams of the Department of Cardiac Surgery, Cardiology and Heart-Lung Transplantation of the Hospital performed a total of 6 heart transplants.