Surgeons hit back at claims heart transplants are against the law

Sidney Morning Herald | Craig Butts

Claims one form of heart transplant is illegal have been dismissed. Photo: Louie Douvis

Heart transplant surgeons and the organ and tissue authority have hit back at suggestions that new heart transplant methods are against the law.

A recent Medical Journal of Australia article argued that when the stopped hearts of certain organ donors were later reanimated and put into another person, the donor was not legally dead because their heart could have been restarted.

Hearts used in transplants have traditionally been taken from patients declared braindead, but in 2014 the first heart transplants from donors who had died after circulation ceased were carried out at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney. Six transplants using this method have been carried out in Australia.

St Vincent's heart transplant unit medical director Peter Macdonald said the operations were legal and the article was based on a "misinterpretation of the law". Continue reading