When first successful heart transplant was done in 1967, people considered it as a boon to mankind. Some people are willing to donate their heart for the good. However, a new report suggests that only one-third of the donated hearts are being transplanted, leaving the majority of donated hearts as a waste. The rate of heart transplantation has further dropped in the past 15 years.
Doctors say that prime reasons behind the waste of this beautiful resource are — either the donor is too old or too sick. Although, heart is available for donation still people in need are refrained. The decision to accept or reject a heart varies from doctors to doctors and is not often subjective. A heart rejected at one centre might get accepted by another, said Dr. Kiran Khush, a transplant cardiologist at Stanford and lead author of the study.
“We don’t have any good, evidence-based guidelines for which donor’s heart should and should not be used. It’s really up to the surgeons to decide,” Khush said. “I think there are a lot of hearts that are usable and not being used.”
The study authors analysed nearly 82,053 heart donations in the USA from 1995 to 2010. In 1995, heart acceptance rate was about 44 percent that degraded to 26 percent till 2006. However, a slight increase was noted in the acceptance rate with 32 per cent till 2010. According to the National Organ Procurement Transplant Network, nearly 2500 heart transplants are done each year in US itself whereas 4000 people are kept in the waiting list, even though there is a heart available for donation.
Some scientists also believe advancement of technology behind lower acceptance rate as some doctors prefer mechanical devices (artificial heart) that can pump blood in patient’s body and help him live longer.
Perhaps some donated hearts are unusable but two-third of the donated heart can’t be. There is an urgent need for some standard guidelines for heart acceptance or rejection to be followed by all.