Introduction: For heart transplantation (HTx), the recommended ischemic time (IT) for donor heart is not to exceed 6 hours. Though Dr Christiaan Barnard used a donor heart with IT of 16 hours, 50 minutes with a portable hypothermic perfusion system in 1981, the recorded IT of donor hearts reported recently is 8 hours, with no adverse effects.
Case report: The patient, a 14-year-old boy of blood type O, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at age 12. In early September 2003, the patient was recommended for HTx. His condition deteriorated 18 days later with low CO, elevated pulmonary vascular resistance, and frequent ventricular tachycardia, further complicated by pneumonia and multiorganism infections, which were contraindications for HTx. On September 22, 2003, a donor heart of blood type O was available 370 km away. Another patient of blood type B with severe heart failure was matched for the HTx. During the intervening time, another donor heart of blood type B became available locally. We matched the type B donor heart to the type B recipient. Since the type O donor heart seemed to be wasted, we performed HTx for the boy. Though preserved for 12 hours in cold cardioplegia, the donor heart was implanted with biatrial anastomosis that took 1 hour. The total IT of this donor heart was 13 hours. The recipient recovered and was discharged 3 months later.
Conclusions: The IT of 13 hours for this donor heart is believed to be a world record. Our experience demonstrates that preservation time of donor heart may exceed 6 hours.