Doctors at UC San Diego's Thorton Hospital conducted a rare surgery Sunday to implant a second heart into a 36-year-old patient with a failing heart.
During the surgery—called heterotopic heart transplantation—doctors positioned the new heart on the right side of patient Tyson Smith's own heart that was failing, creating two beating hearts. Smith is a San Diego resident.
In a news release, Dr. Jack Copeland, professor of surgery and director of cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support at UC San Diego Health System, said Smith is a pioneer among heart transplant patients. Copeland said that while the procedure is very rare, it is one "worth having in the tool kit of options in cardiac replacement."
"Even though Mr. Smith was facing death, he could not have a standard heart transplant," explained Dr. Michael Madani, associate professor of surgery and co-director of the UC San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, in the release. "Removing the old heart and replacing it with a new heart would have caused the new heart to fail because resistance to flow in his lungs—called pulmonary hypertension—was so high. But together, the two hearts share the work and get the job done."
UC San Diego Health System reported that the heart in the average heterotopic heart transplantation has a survival rate of 10 years. Smith is expected to be discharged in two weeks and return to a normal level of activities within the next few months, according to hospital officials.