OTA congratulates St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney on Australia’s first Donation after Circulatory Death heart transplant

Friday 24 October 2014

OTA congratulates St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney on Australia’s first Donation after Circulatory Death heart transplant

The Organ and Tissue Authority acknowledges and congratulates the team at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, on performing a world first in organ donation and transplantation history.

The St Vincent’s Hospital’s Heart Transplant Unit recently performed Australia’s first heart transplant surgeries with two people with end-stage heart failure receiving heart transplants from donors after circulatory death (DCD). Until now, transplant units have relied solely on donated hearts from brain death patients. Both heart transplant recipients have recovered extremely well.

The DCD heart transplants were carried out following pioneering basic and translational research undertaken by the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital. This surgery is the culmination of an extensive research project undertaken by Professor Peter MacDonald, Medical Director of the St Vincent’s Heart Transplant Unit, Head of the Transplantation Research Laboratory at the Victor Chang Institute and Professor of Medicine at University of New South Wales.

The St Vincent’s Hospital heart and lung transplantation program is one of the largest and longest running in Australia, and their work contributes to Australia being internationally recognised as a world leader in successful transplantation outcomes and long-term survival of recipients.

Their proficiency and expertise in successfully performing this procedure marks a major milestone for the Australian medical profession and is to be commended.

Congratulations to the team at St Vincent’s Hospital – you can be proud of this significant achievement which we hope increases the pool of potential heart donors and paves the way for more Australian lives to be transformed through organ and tissue donation for transplantation.


  • The number of organ donors each year in Australia has increased by nearly 60% over the last four years since the establishment of the Organ and Tissue Authority and the DonateLife Network.
  • The growth in organ donors has led to a 40% growth in the number of transplant recipients.
  • Over the last four years, there has been a 43% growth in the number of kidneys transplanted from deceased donors (from 452 to 645 kidneys) and nearly 50% increase in the number of lungs transplanted (from 112 to 167 lung transplants each year) but just a 30% growth in hearts transplanted (from 59 to 77 heart transplants).
  • This difference in growth rates is because until now heart transplantation could only proceed from the 78% of organ donors, using 2013 data, who died via the Donation after Brain Death pathway.
  • The ‘Heart in a Box’ technology and organ preservation and resuscitation technology allows the remaining 22% of the deceased donors, using 2013 data, who proceed via the Donation after Circulatory Death pathway to also be assessed for heart transplantation.

Read the media release from St Vincent’s Hospital


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