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How does heart transplant surgery work? - Roni Shanoada

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Your heart beats more than 100,000 times a day. In just a minute, it pumps over five liters of blood throughout your body. But unlike skin and bones, the heart has a limited ability to repair itself. So if this organ is severely damaged, there’s often only one medical solution: replacing it. Roni Shanoada explores how this complex and intricate procedure works.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Roni Shanoada
  • Director Alexia Roider, Zedem Media
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Jeanne Bornet
  • Animator Eleni Catherine Demetriou
  • Art Director Jeanne Bornet
  • Sound Designer Andreas Trachonitis
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Abdallah Ewis
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
Additional Resources for you to Explore
In 1905 Drs. Guthrie and Carrel performed the first ever heart transplant at the University of Chicago. Not for any life-saving measure, simply because they wanted to see if it could even work. They removed the heart of a younger, smaller dog and placed it into the neck of an older, larger one. They were able to reattach all the necessary blood vessels allowing blood to flow through the heart, and demonstrated that heart transplantation could be done. It was a rousing success. The dog died two hours later. From there on, many canine experiments were done in many countries from Brazil to Russia, to identify the best way to preserve the heart, reattach blood vessels, and treat the patient after the surgery. This culminated in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa where Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first ever human-to-human heart transplant. The recipient was a 54-year-old man with end-stage heart failure, while the donor was a 25-year-old woman who was killed by a drunk driver. The patient lived for 18 days.

Now that heart transplants have become relatively routine, the most pressing problem is how to solve for organ shortages. This has involved using organ from previously restricted populations, such as those infected with HIV. This article from NPR describes how the HOPE Act and HIV donors have reduced wait times and organ shortages. Or expanding the donation pool from unexpected deaths, as described here. Further, the use of genetically modified pig heart has been suggested as a way of minding the gap. See here from the University of Maryland.

Read this article and watch this video on left ventricular assist devices that describe left ventricular assist devices (LVAD), which could bridge time to a transplant or possibly replace transplantation altogether.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Roni Shanoada
  • Director Alexia Roider, Zedem Media
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Jeanne Bornet
  • Animator Eleni Catherine Demetriou
  • Art Director Jeanne Bornet
  • Sound Designer Andreas Trachonitis
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Abdallah Ewis
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler