Newborn child of Leland parents receives world’s first partial heart transplant

A newborn baby in North Carolina received the world’s first partial heart transplant. ( Source: WECT)
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 1:27 PM EDT
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DURHAM, N.C. (WECT) - The newborn child of Leland parents received the first known partial heart transplant on April 22, 2022 at Duke Health in Durham. Living arteries and valves from a donated heart were fused into the baby’s heart, according to the announcement from Duke Health on September 8.

Owen Monroe was born at 5 pounds with two of his heart arteries fused together and a leaky valve, giving him a small chance of survival if he was to wait for a full heart transplant. This scenario usually calls for preserved cadaver arteries with valves, but the non-living tissue requires repeated open-heart surgeries to be replaced as the person grows up.

But by transplanting living tissue, the heart will grow over time as usual without the need for those follow up surgeries. A partial transplant also allows for a portions of a heart to be used that would otherwise not be viable for a full transplant.

“As harrowing of an experience as it was for our family, we knew from the beginning that Owen was in the best hands,” said Nick Monroe, Owen’s father in the announcement. “Our greatest hope is that Owen’s success story will change the way organ donation and transplants are handled not only for congenital heart disease babies, but for all patients.”