Cardiac transplantation: current results at the Texas heart institute

Tex Heart Inst J. 1984 Sep;11(3):228-32.


The first series of cardiac transplants at the Texas Heart Institute began in May of 1968 but was discontinued because of the complications of infection and rejection. A second series of cardiac transplants was initiated in July of 1982 after the introduction of the immunosuppressant drug, cyclosporine. By August of 1984, 30 patients had undergone orthotopic cardiac transplantation for end-stage cardiac disease. Of the patients in this series, four have died of rejection, two of infectious complications, and one of an unknown cause. The remainder have all returned to Class I New York Heart Association (NYHA) cardiac status. All patients were reviewed in detail for suitability of cardiac transplantation and presented to a cardiac transplant review board. All transplanted patients were functional Class IV. Donor hearts were obtained locally or by long-distance procurement. Ten of the hearts were obtained from an average distance of 250 miles from Houston. Donors ranged in age from 16 to 37 years. Requirements were normal cardiac function with minimal use of inotropic support, no history of cardiac disease, absence of cardiac arrest and absence of active infection. Although only one of the patients in the initial group of transplants survived 1 year, to date there have been 11 survivors for more than 1 year in the current series. Advances in cardiac transplantation have resulted in an improved prognosis for the terminal cardiomyopathic patients requiring transplantation. The use of cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant that spares the nonspecific immune system, has been helpful in allowing patients to survive infections. The use of the drug must be carefully monitored, however, because of its numerous toxicities.