It is being reported that surgeons from Denver have released documents pertaining to a procedure that they performed on 3 severely brain damaged new borns, shortly after they were pronounced dead after being taken off life support.
The procedure involved removing the hearts of new born babies less than 2 minutes after they were removed from life support, a fact that has raised serious questions regarding the ethical practice.
On one hand, the hearts of these babies are perfectly healthy and go to helping terminally ill babies. On the other hand, advocates believe that doctors are in the wrong for removing the hearts from babies who are not even brain dead yet.
In the case of the 3 babies who were taken off life support, their hearts were removed less than 2 minutes after they were taken off life support and transplanted into 3 other babies, all of whom survived.
“It seemed like there was an unmet need in two situations,” said Dr. Mark Boucek, who led the study at Children’s Hospital in Denver. “Recipients were dying while awaiting donor organs. And we had children dying whose family wanted to donate, and we weren’t able to do it.”
Last year in the US there were more than 790 of these cardiac-death donations, meaning that over time the procedure has become more accepted than in years past. The majority of donors wer adults donating kidneys and livers.
The 3 heart transplant cases are fully documented in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.