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每日跟讀#638: Doctors bring woman back to life 50 days after heart stops beating

國內首例 女遭蜂螫心臟停了五十天 台大醫院成功換心

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日跟讀#638: Doctors bring woman back to life 50 days after heart stops beating

A 38-year-old woman, surnamed Chen, was stung by a bee last year while holidaying in Japan. On returning to Taiwan Chen developed a fever in addition to experiencing painful itching. She went to see a doctor and an electrocardiogram test showed up abnormalities. Chen then suffered a heart failure and eventually her heart stopped beating altogether. All her medical team could do was to wait for a heart transplant, however one day quickly turned into 50 days, and for more than a month the Grim Reaper was knocking on the door.


On Friday, National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) held a news conference to celebrate a successful heart transplant operation. Chen’s medical team said they put her on extracorporeal life support and a biventricular assist device, and placed Chen on the hospital’s waiting list for a heart transplant. However while waiting for the transplant several complications occurred including acute renal failure and internal bleeding, so that continuous blood transfusions were needed to increase the number of human leukocyte antigen antibodies found within Chen’s blood. These additional complications greatly increased the probability that a donor heart would be rejected.


Director of NTUH Cardiovascular Center Chen Yi-hsiang said it is likely that the bee sting caused an extreme allergic reaction which lead to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). During the treatment process, there were four opportunities to carry out a heart transplant, however none of the candidates matched Chen’s human leukocyte antigens. In order to increase the chances of success, the hospital’s organ transplant team developed a “desensitization” course of treatment.


Chen Yi-hsiang says that after carrying out the desensitization treatment, and following a wait of 50 days since Chen’s heart stopped beating, at the end of last year the team successfully transplanted a new heart into her body.

Chen Yi-hsiang says Chen’s new heart is functioning well and shows no signs of rejection, adding that the extremely long waiting time of 50 days has set a new record for heart transplants in Taiwan.


NTUH has been performing cross-matched heart transplants since 2010 and to date have achieved over 50 successful transplants using this method. At the news conference, convener of NTUH Organ Transplant Team Chou Nai-kuan said we should give thanks to those members of the public who are willing to donate organs, which give patients the chance to a second life.


According to data from the Taiwan Organ Donor Registry and Sharing Center, there are currently 180 people on the waiting list for a heart transplant in Taiwan, while kidney transplants are most in need, with as many as 7,666 people currently waiting in line for a new kidney.


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