Vietnam performs first heart-kidney transplant

By Le Nga   February 25, 2023 | 02:26 am PT
Vietnam performs first heart-kidney transplant
A man raises his thumb after recovering from a heart and kidney transplant at Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi, February 2023. Photo by Viet Duc Hospital
Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi successfully performed the first heart and kidney transplant on one patient in Vietnam this month, the hospital announced Friday.

The patient, a 37-year-old man from the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, heart failure and severe arrhythmias, leading to end-stage renal failure.

He was on dialysis for more than five years and often had to receive emergency treatment at major hospitals in HCMC and Hue in central Vietnam.

Doctors at Viet Duc, the largest surgical center in northern Vietnam, decided in the middle of 2022 to perform a heart-kidney transplant on him, using organs from brain-dead donors.

They waited until early this month to find a compatible donor, whose internal organs were all injured except for the heart and a kidney.

Around 80 doctors and nurses were divided into three shifts to perform the transplant, which lasted 10 hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 17.

Associate Professor Nguyen Huu Uoc, director of the hospital’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Center, said heart or kidney transplant is normal procedure at the hospital, but transplanting both at once is a big challenge and the procedure was prepared carefully to the smallest details.

"We transplanted the heart first, then the kidney," Uoc said. "The kidney once transplanted would require the best conditions. Thus the team needed to make sure there was enough pressure for the heart to pump blood to the kidney."

The transplanted organs fully functioned after eight days and the patient could sit up, eat and communicate by himself. He will receive treatment for several more weeks.

Vietnam has performed more than 6,500 organ transplants successfully over the past 30 years.

The heart-kidney transplant was the fourth transplant involving multiple organs on one patient in the country. Viet Duc Hospital performed a liver-kidney transplant two years ago, while the 103 Military Hospital had performed a pancrea-kidney transplant and Hue Central Hospital a heart-lung transplant.

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