70,000th heart operation at the German Heart Center

70,000th heart operation with a heart-lung machine at the German Heart Center

The German Heart Center Berlin (DHZB) is an internationally renowned clinic for open heart surgery. Recently, the 70,000th heart operation was performed using a heart-lung machine. The 84-year-old patient survived the operation well.

Artificial pumps of greater importance than transplants Roland Hetzer, medical director of the DHZB, had every reason to celebrate. In addition to the 70,000th open heart surgery that was carried out in the heart center, the first successful artificial heart implantation at the DHZB, which Hetzer performed in 1987 for a 53-year-old man from southern Germany, celebrated its 25th anniversary. The doctor explained that artificial pumps are now more important than transplants because fewer and fewer donor organs are available. In 2011, 177 artificial hearts used in the DHZB faced only 62 transplants. This explains the fact that the specialists at congresses dealt more with artificial pumps than with transplants.

The organ donation organization responsible for organ donation in Leiden, the Netherlands, keeps a list of around 15,000 people waiting for a donor organ. In 2010, however, just under 7,000 hearts, livers, lungs, kidneys and pancreas were donated and transplanted.

70,000th patient with open heart surgery is 84 years old The 70,000th patient with open heart surgery at the DHZB is 84-year-old Lore Buettner, who was treated for aortic dissection, a life-threatening breakdown of the wall layers of the main artery. "Some say that patients over 80 years of age should no longer have surgery on aortic dissection," said Hetzer. "But from the very beginning I have given the motto for this house to take in and treat every patient, no matter how old he is," said the Medical Director of the DHZB. "Elsewhere, well-known institutions also reject such an operation for people over 80 years old."

The woman's operation was successful. "I feel extremely comfortable," said Buettner. “And I am very grateful that I can still experience all of this despite my 84 years. I am very grateful that I can live. "

Great advances in the field of medical technology Hetzer also pointed to the great advances in the field of medical technology. Compared to the devices initially used, the heart-supporting systems in particular have now been significantly reduced in size. There used to be refrigerator-sized supply systems that are now much smaller. In addition, artificial pumps would no longer be attached to the patient's body, so that patients would have a higher quality of life.

Hetzer has been head of the DHZB since 1986. In 1983 he performed his first heart transplant in Hanover. "Building the DHZB was a fascinating challenge," said the doctor. “I have always enjoyed my work and I still enjoy operating today.” It was motivating to “run a center about which one can say that if nothing else works, you can still send the patients there.” (ag)

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