Response to World’s first heart-thymus transplant

8 March 2022

US doctors at the Duke University Hospital in North Carolina have successfully transplanted a heart and thymus into a little boy under their care.

Transplant patients are currently required to take immunosuppressants for the rest of their life to prevent their body rejecting the transplanted organ.

The thymus helps to fight infection and, while more research is needed, this medical discovery shows there is potential for future solid organ patients to no longer need immunosuppressants.

This could improve the quality of life for people after transplantation and increase the likelihood of future patients’ bodies accepting an organ, meaning more lives saved and improved through donation.

We welcome this breakthrough.

An NHSBT spokesperson said: “We are always interested in new developments that may enable more transplanted organs to be accepted. Researchers and clinicians across the world continue to break new ground to try and improve the life chances for transplant patients and this latest procedure is yet another example of the amazing potential of modern medicine.

“There are around 40 children waiting for a heart transplant in the UK and many child heart patients are relying on a young organ donor to save their life. Without organ donors there can be no transplants, which is why we need everyone to make their organ donation decision and let their family know.”