Doctors at Duke University Hospital perform new type of heart transplant on 14-year-old

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Duke doctors perform new type of heart transplant on teen girl
Doctors at Duke University Hospital successfully completed something that's never been done before.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Doctors at Duke University Hospital successfully completed something that's never been done before.

The doctors performed a heart "donation after circulatory death" on a child. It's a new technique that could help increase heart transplants by 50 percent.

Brandaline Rice is impressed by the implications of the success story, but she's more focused on the fact that her own daughter is now hopeful for the future.

"She can get another chance at doing things that she loves doing in life," Rice said.

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Rice's 14-year-old daughter, Nae, was born with a gene deletion syndrome. Unable to fully communicate, she was hospitalized with breathing issues and later found out she was experiencing heart failure.

"Sometimes I was even mad that my child was having to go through this," Rice said.

She needed a heart and she needed one fast. So Duke doctors looked at a new technology to fast track the solution.

"What happens is you take the heart out of the donor very quickly and place the heart on a profusion pump which then reanimated the heart," Dr. Nick Andersen explained.

Andersen is one of the doctors who performed the donation after circulatory death transplant.

"The whole new process, it didn't really sink in until after the surgery that I realized how big this was," Rice said.

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Rice's daughter became the first ever pediatric patient to receive this type of transplant. Her success helps pave the way for future patients.

"Both the patient and her family can be proud that they helped to usher in a new type of transplantation and be kind of the pioneers of this in children," Andersen said.

Nae is still in the hospital recovering and doing well.

Anderson said she could be in the hospital for another month or two.