To investigate the long-term success of heart transplantation in newborn infants who have complex congenital heart disease, we have developed a model of heterotopic heart transplantation in immature pigs. We chose the heterotopic technique because it is simple, does not require cardiopulmonary bypass or heparin, allows for significant size disparity between the recipient and donor hearts, and allows for experimental comparisons between the two hearts. Small newborn piglet hearts are harvested, prepared, and then transplanted into the left chest of larger weanling pigs to augment or substitute for the native left ventricle. Preliminary data from transplants into 49 pigs suggest that the technique is technically possible, the pigs can be immunosuppressed over the long term, and the donor heart can contribute hemodynamically. Experimentally, the model is well designed for the investigation of issues critical for the long-term success of heart transplantation in infants and children, including growth and development, optimal long-term immunosuppression, differences in immunotolerance, and the study of coronary obliterative disease. Clinically, the model has potential applicability in congenital heart anomalies if one native functioning atrium and ventricle are present.
View details for Web of Science ID A1989AE79300016
View details for PubMedID 2661923