IJN completes two successful heart transplants on teenagers

Two heart transplants in 2024 mark return of crucial programme

11 Mar 2024 08:28pm
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF

KUALA LUMPUR - The National Heart Institute (IJN) reaffirms its commitment to advancing treatments for heart failure and raising awareness on organ donation following the successful completion of two heart transplants early this year.

IJN in a statement today said the two patients, who are in their late teens, received their heart transplants in January and are recovering well post-surgery.

"Both patients were diagnosed with non-ischaemic dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease which stretches and thins the heart chambers. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body and can sometimes lead to heart failure,” it said.

According to IJN, the first patient, a 19-year-old, finally received the life-saving gift of a new heart in January after enduring an agonising eight-month wait list since May 2023, while the second patient, an 18-year-old, underwent left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation, paving the way for a potential transplant in February.

"The use of cutting-edge medical technology and the unwavering commitment of IJN's medical team played a crucial role in ensuring a seamless transition from LVAD support to a successful transplant,” it said.

IJN chief executive officer Datuk Dr Aizai Azan Abdul Rahim during media briefing today said IJN is currently the only hospital in Malaysia to offer heart and lung transplantation and mechanical heart implantation, supported by a highly trained, multi-disciplinary team.

After pioneering heart and lung transplants in Malaysia in 1997 and 2005 respectively, IJN became the first in the country to perform a mechanical heart implantation in 2005, and also carried out its first heart-lung transplant in 2007.

To date, the centre has successfully performed 29 heart transplants, six lung transplants, six heart-lung transplants, 36 LVAD implantations, and seven LVAD-to-heart-transplant procedures.

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"We are proud to celebrate these two medical victories, especially after a hiatus in transplant surgeries due to the scarcity of organ donors. This success is also a testament to the strength of our community. We're grateful to the various parties who have helped us transform the lives of these young patients,” said Dr Aizai Azan.

He said while these two latest heart transplants highlight IJN's strength in managing complex heart cases, they also underscore the critical need for increased organ donor participation in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, IJN chairman Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah expressed his gratitude to the Ministry of Health (MOH) for its support of IJN's Heart, Lung Transplant and Mechanical Heart Programme.

"The MOH’s support and grants for this programme have benefitted 77 patients thus far. We hope that this collaboration continues to help us offer life-saving opportunities for even more patients and greatly welcome potential partnerships with the corporate sector for this cause as well,” he said.

Reiterating the profound impact organ donation has on individuals and families, Dr Noor Hisham said: "Every registered organ donor has the potential to turn despair into hope. By simply signing up, you too can give the gift of life to patients in need.”

Dr Noor Hisham said to date 382,000 have taken an oath to be an organ donor in Malaysia but 0.02 per cent of them were still reluctant to donate their organ due to negative stigma and family disputes.

"The government always provides funds and grants for organ transplantation and we want to progress in this field like Turkiye which is far advanced in organ transplant,” he said, while hoping that more would register as organ donors. - BERNAMA