Easter miracle - Latvian heart transplant success

Thanks to the permission of a donor's family three miraculous surgery took place over the Easter holidays, which included successful transplants of two kidneys and a heart at Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital, according to Latvian Television's “Panorāma” broadcast on April 13.

It had been two years since the last successful heart transplant in Latvia, and the woman who received the heart is awake and feeling as well as can be expected. Two more serious operations took place over the holidays at Stradiņš Hospital, and thanks to the same donor two people also received kidneys.

“The patient is 60 years old, has heart problems as a result of coronary heart disease, and she actually waited over a year - 400 days - in line for a heart. She had been called to the hospital twice, but due to objective circumstances the operation didn't happen,” said Cardiac Surgery Department Chief Uldis Strazdiņš.

This time the operation happened, and it lasted almost five hours. According to Strazdiņš, both the donor operation and the transplant operation went smoothly, even though it was the first one in a long time. Operations during the Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic require special care, as the virus can be especially dangerous for those with a weakened immune system. Keeping the patient safe will be a whole other challenge.

National Transplant Coordination Center Director Jurijs Bormotovs thanked the donor's family for their courage in carrying out such a sacrifice in these difficult times. The health of both the donor and patients were carefully monitored. The transplant can't occur if even one or the other has contracted the coronavirus, so the number of transplants has sharply decreased, despite the coronavirus not being transmissible through transplanted organs.

“These operations have their own mystique, it's wonderful. As a medic I understand it technically, but it has its own aura. Best wishes to the donor's family!" said Strazdiņš.

Heart operations at Stradiņš Hospital are unplanned. “I was planning on Easter with the family, I managed to also color one egg, and then I had to go! Well, it turned out to be a hot Easter this year, yes!” said the surgeon. The hospital considers the successful heart transplant to be a true Easter miracle.

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