Historic procedure restarts a stopped heart

Published January 27, 2021



Can a stopped heart begin to beat again in someone else's body? For a long time, the answer was no. But that's changed with an exciting new procedure for heart transplants called donation after cardiac death (DCD). 

In DCD patients, the heart stops completely before donation can begin. Without oxygenated blood, the heart will quickly become nonviable. That's where artificial circulation comes in, says heart surgeon Marian Urban, MD, PhD. A machine reanimates the heart before surgeons transfer it to the heart recipient.

"The feeling I have now is that I can live," says heart recipient Don Sheard. For the past three years, Sheard had to rely on a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). "The teamwork involved to get me where I'm at today – I did nothing. A massive amount of doctors and nurses did everything.

It was just amazing how skilled they were," he says. This new procedure opens up new opportunities for heart transplant patients.