Man Goes In For Surgery Ends Up With Two Hearts

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In India, during a routine heart transplant, doctors had to perform a rare procedure to save a man's life. After the procedure, the man ended up with two hearts, after the replacement heart was deemed too small for the man.

His original heart was the size of a small soccer ball.

Doctor Who?

One of the more famous cases of a man having two hearts is the title character of the British sci-fi series Doctor Who. In real life, a man underwent a seldom-used procedure that has only been seldom performed in order to prevent heart failure.

In Hyderabad, India surgeons were going to perform a heart transplant on a 56-year-old man when they ran into problems with the heart.

On Saturday, doctors had to perform a piggyback heart transplant after being unable to remove the patient's damaged heart. Surgeons say that the donor's heart was the size of a fist making it replace his original heart. His original heart was the size of a small soccer ball.

Piggyback heart transplant is so rare that the procedure had only been performed about 150 times. Surgeons rushed to perform the surgery on the 56-year-old while time was running out. His lung blood pressure was rising, there wasn't sufficient time to find another heart that was a match in time, and the heart which came from a brain-dead person had to be restarted within four hours of being stopped.

To perform the procedure doctors had to remove some of the patient's pericardium from the original heart - the pericardium is the membrane enclosing the heart. Doctors then crammed the new heart between the right lung and the original heart.

Doctors say that the two hearts beat at different rates, and compliment each other during circulation. They've predicted that there will be complications in the future. Different pulses will make it difficult to tell which organ is facing problems should something happen.

The surgery involving the second heart took about seven hours.

Piggyback Heart Transplant

Piggyback heart surgery is the informal name for heterotopic heart transplantation. During this procedure, the second heart is placed on the right side of the original heart. Both heart's left atria are attached, this allows for oxygenated blood to flow to the new heart. From there the blood is pumped into the new left ventricle which allows it to be pumped into the rest of the body.

Average survival for this procedure is 10 years. This is a more difficult surgery than just replacing the heart.

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