Recent Blog Articles

Heart Health

An advance in heart transplantation

July 1, 2020

Every year, hundreds of people in the United States die waiting for a heart transplant. A new procedure may make more donated hearts available.

92f55682-f31f-4055-8b4b-c9470b4d3bc1

In this country, more than 7,300 people are on the waiting list for a new heart during the course of a year. The majority are in their 50s and early 60s, and most have severe, debilitating heart failure. But because of a shortage of suitable donor hearts, fewer than half will receive a heart transplant. However, an emerging technique known as donation after circulatory death may help address that gap in coming years.

For decades, all heart transplants done in the United States have used hearts donated after brain death, which is defined as the irreversible loss of all brain function. Organs other than the heart — including lungs, kidneys, and livers — are donated after either brain death or after circulatory death, a circumstance known as donation after circulatory death, or DCD (see "What is donation after circulatory death?"). But in recent years, researchers in Australia and England began pioneering heart transplants following circulatory death.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.