Heart transplants at Erasmus MC
We receive patients referred to us with end-stage heart failure. In each patient we look in detail at whether we can improve the medication. If this is not effective, we look at whether the patient can receive a mechanical support heart. We call this a left ventricular assist device. With a support heart people have fewer symptoms of heart failure. They also build up a better condition and often get better kidney function. We assess whether the patient qualifies for a heart transplant. Surgery for a support heart is planable. Surgery for a heart transplant is not planable. The wait for a donor heart can be as long as 3 to 4 years, sometimes with outliers up to 6 years.
'You can hit the jackpot, but you can't hit a life. My patient had given up hope for a new heart. That I was allowed to deliver the news that a donor heart was available is something I will never forget.'
Anton Voortman, CCU nurse in cardiology
Heart in a box
Once there is a donor heart, the surgeon will first remove any supporting heart. The support heart must be removed before the donor heart can be placed in the recipient. The advent of the "heart in a box" gives the surgeon sufficient time to do this. Of all donor organs, the heart is the most sensitive to oxygen deficiency. In the "heart in a box" the donor heart is offered this oxygen and can recover and recharge. This is not possible with the classic transplantation method. We want the heart to be beating again in the recipient within 4 hours of transplantation.
More information is available on our websites (only available in Dutch):
Patient's story: Peter van Maurik
Peter van Maurik underwent a heart transplant at the Erasmus MC Transplant Institute 6 years ago. Two years later he became world champion in swimming at the World Transplant Games. During the opening of the Transplantation Institute, Peter spoke candidly about his experiences. Watch this impressive story in the video below (only available in Dutch).