Artificial hearts plug shortage

Surgeons at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens will keep trying to save the lives of seriously ill patients using artificial hearts as long as the current shortage of suitable organs for transplant continues, a clinic official told Kathimerini yesterday. Petros Alivizatos, the head of the center’s transplant program on Syngrou Avenue, said there were usually three to six patients on a waiting list to receive heart transplants – simply too long for some to wait. The number of organ donors in Greece is low and Alivizatos said the center would continue implanting artificial hearts in patients who suffer from severe heart problems until donors could be found. Doctors at the clinic have fitted 15 patients with artificial hearts so far. Twelve are currently alive. This surgery only takes place when a patient’s life is in danger as it increases the risk of complications during the transplant of a donor heart later. The process is also expensive as artificial hearts cost between 60,000 and 120,000 euros.