For the first time in China, doctors have successfully transplanted the heart of a brain- dead patient, despite a taboo on taking organs from people whom Chinese traditionally do not consider dead.
"As the first transplant with a heart extracted from a brain-dead patient, the surgery is of great medical and ethical significance," Chen Zhonghua, director of Institute of Organ Transplantation of Tongji Hospital under Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Central China's Hubei Province, said yesterday.
The successful operation shows China has the necessary technology including long-distance transport, storage of the donor's heart and revival of the transplanted organ to perform heart transplants, 'China Daily' reported.
The 36-year-old donor, a construction worker identified as Yang from East China's Zhejiang Province, was the first brain-dead patient in the province and the 18th nationwide to have his organs transplanted.
A 38-year-old man with a heart condition, Wu, was the recipient, undergoing transplant surgery on July 1 in Jinan, the capital of East China's Shandong Province. He remained in a critical condition yesterday.
Chen, a specialist in charge of a national programme studying brain death and organ transplants initiated by health and education authorities, was notified early last week that the brain-dead man's family wanted to donate his organs.
After medical examination, Chen and other doctors confirmed the man's brain had stopped functioning, the stage at which much of the developed world consider a person to be dead. His heart was removed after family members signed a formal consent letter and was transported by plane to Jinan.