UK girl recovers fully after donor heart removed

Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:09pm EDT
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By Humeyra Pamuk

LONDON (Reuters) - A British girl who was given an extra heart as a toddler has become the world's first heart transplant patient to make a full recovery after having her donor organ removed and function restored to her original heart.

Hannah Clark, now 16, had a "piggyback" transplant operation in 1995 aged two, when a new heart was inserted in parallel to her own failing one.

The donor organ had to be removed 3-1/2 years ago because the immunosuppressant drugs she was taking to avoid organ rejection caused cancer -- but by then her own heart had recovered sufficiently to work on its own.

Since the surgery, which took place in 2006, Clark has made a full recovery from the cancer and has a normal cardiac function, her doctors said on Tuesday.

"Now we are a lot more confident (about this procedure)," said Magdi Yacoub from Imperial College London, who co-led the surgery team.

"The heart muscle itself, which was not doing anything at all, has recovered."

He added cardiomyopathy, or the deterioration of the function of the heart muscle, was relatively common in children in the first year of their life.

Victor Tsang from Great Ormond Street Hospital, who was the other surgery team leader, said Clarke's case offered hope for other patients with heart failure.   Continued...

<p>Hannah Clark poses between doctors Magdi Yacoub (L) and Victor Tsang, after a news conference in London, July 13, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning</p>