A record number of adult heart transplants were performed at NHS Golden Jubilee in 2022-23.
Specialists at the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service (SNAHFS), based at the Golden Jubilee University National Hospital, carried out 40 life-saving operations – a record number in one year for the national service.
Innovation in technique and advancements in technology, such as an organ care system to allow surgeons to transplant hearts from donors who die after circulatory death, have increased the availability of hearts for transplant and have also boosted the success rate which is currently at 95% for 90-day survival.
The SNAHFS team aims to build on this year’s transplant figure which brings the total number to 490 since the first was performed in January 1992. The first 280 operations took place at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary before the service moved to NHS Golden Jubilee in 2008.
Health Secretary Michael Matheson visited the unit today to mark the record year.
Mr Matheson said:
“It is a remarkable achievement to perform 40 life-saving operations in a year and my thanks go to all the staff at the heart transplant unit for their skill and dedication in making this happen – it is truly life-saving for the patients.
“The unit has gone from strength to strength since its launch more than 30 years ago and with today’s medical advances it is amazing so many people being given a new lease of life.
“We must also remember the donors, and we thank each and every one of them and their families for their gift of life.”
Consultant Cardiologist and SNAHFS Clinical Lead, Jonathan Dalzell, said: “This represents the most transplants the Scottish service has ever done in one year.
“This truly is a landmark year for our service, and to have reached this incredible accomplishment despite being the smallest service in the UK is a direct reflection of the extraordinary teamwork, expertise and dedication of everyone involved.
“I would like to sincerely thank every member of our multidisciplinary team who have worked incredibly hard over the last several years to make this historical landmark a possibility. However, regardless of how hard our multidisciplinary team work to care for our patients, without the overwhelming generosity of organ donors and their loved ones transplant would simply not exist as a treatment option - they are the true heroes of transplantation.”
Megan Geddes, 29, from Dalmuir, West Dunbartonshire had a recurring chest infection when she was 13 and was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. For the next five years she underwent constant tests and had a defibrillator fitted aged 17. She was referred to the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service at the Golden Jubilee in 2019 for assessment and had a transplant in 2022.
Megan said: “I’m very grateful to have my transplant so young as I was told that I might not have lived past the age of 35, so I’m extremely grateful for this second chance at life. It’s been a big year for me. I am 100% better and appreciate the little things in life like just singing in the shower.
“When I came round from surgery and had my first echo scan and heard the sound of my new heart beating I couldn’t stop crying. It was really emotional just listening to it because I had never heard a normal heartbeat before.
“I think about my donor every day and I am so grateful to them, and to their family for respecting their organ donation wishes.”
Megan is now looking forward to starting a new career when she begins her training to become a bus driver in May.