A medical team at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh succeeded in preforming a heart transplant to a 23-month-old infant. It is considered to be the youngest case of heart transplant ever in the history of the Kingdom in the past 30 years.
His Excellency Dr. Qasim Al Qasabi, Chief Executive Officer of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre emphasized the success of a heart transplant operation to an infant of this age which reflects the high standards of medical, nursing and technical teams available at the hospital. It is simply the medical excellence that extends to an integrated system of specialist transplant programs; some of which are liver, kidney, lungs, stem cells, bones and pancreas.
He pointed to the fact that the transplant programme requires high medical qualifications and strong infrastructure support along with advanced facilities and services. He indicated that the hospital was able to perform 5 heart transplant operations for children under the age of 14 years, which are known to be far more complex, compared to adult operations. The youngest case was for an eleven-year-old child among 30 heart transplant operations carried out in 2015.
Dr. Zuhair Al-Halees, senior cardiac consultant for pediatric and adults at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh explained that the infant who underwent a heart transplant operation recently was suffering from heart failure since birth and his situation was deteriorating with no response to medications and that he reached an advanced stage that required immediate intervention to save his life. He added saying: “The medical team was facing a huge challenge in finding a brain-dead donor of the same age which is 23 months as such possibility is rare internationally because the number of brain-dead fatalities among children is usually due to traffic accidents or falling from high locations which is not common among children. He indicated that international studies showed, according to the International Heart and Lung Transplantation Society, 30%-50% of patients with heart failure die within the first five years, among them 50% of infants who do not receive a heart transplant will die within 2 years, further more their lives within these remaining years will be very difficult.
Dr. Al-Halees assured that the infant’s condition is good and has actually left the hospital with a regular follow up routine. He congratulated his parents for the success of the operation and highlighted the great role of the Saudi Organ Transplant Centre in helping KFSH&RC to obtain the suitable organ and encouraged all members of society to contribute to organs donation to save the lives of patients’ with heart failure.
King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh has a heart transplantation programme since 1989 and the total numbers of heart transplants since its establishment has reached 239 transplantations till the end of 2015, 30 of which were done last year. The past ten years have witnessed the program’s highest number of operations with 181 transplants, making 75% of the total number of transplants. In addition, the program was able to raise the success rate of operations in the first year of transplants to 89%, which is higher than the average; when compared to about 250 heart centres in 45 countries including advanced heart centres in North America and some well-known European Centres under the International Heart and Lung Transplantation Society.