Purpose of review
Despite advances in the technology of mechanical circulatory support, the need for heart transplantation continues to grow. The longevity of heart transplants continues to be superior to mechanical solutions, though the short-term differences are shrinking. In this review, we cover three timely developments and summarize the recent literature.
After stagnant rates of heart transplant activity for some years, recently, transplant volume has increased. The developments that have ignited interest have been the use of hepatitis C infected donors, which can now be safely transplanted with the advent of curative oral regimens, and the worldwide use of donors following withdrawal of life support as opposed to traditional brain death donors. In addition, the recent experience of human cardiac xenotransplantation has been very exciting, and though it is not of clinical utility yet, it holds the promise for a virtually unlimited supply of organs at some time in the future.
Much work remains to be done, but together, all three of these developments are exciting and important to be aware of in the future. Each will contribute to additional donors for human heart transplantation and hopefully will alleviate suffering and death on the waiting list.