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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 18. July 30, 1968

'Age the limit to heart swaps'

page 2

'Age the limit to heart swaps'

"One has to draw the limit with age when considering heart transplant surgery," said Mr B. G. Barratt-Boyes, a leading New Zealand heart surgeon, at the last of a series of winter term lectures on heart transplant surgery.

He would prefer younger people to undergo this type of surgery because "they have more to offer society," he said.

The selection of recipients was one of a number of problems inherent in the replacing of organs.

This was directly related to the question of whether one person could accept the tissue of another, as both donor and recipient had to be of similar tissue-type.

"There is only one chance in a million of getting a perfect match", he said.

But some rejection could be expected.

"The methods of combatting this are, as yet, imperfect." he said.

When the cells were killed-off the body was susceptible to infection which had to be destroyed by drugs or deep x-rays.

A new drug, Anti-Lymphocyte Serum, which kills only half the while cells produced in rejection, he said.

As well as rejection of the new heart there were other problems to be faced: when was a donor clinically dead? the preservation of donor hearts and, not the least, the immense cost and the time involved, with the need for intensive care in sterile conditions.

"It's anybody's guess when work of any great volume could be undertaken," Mr. Barratt-Boyes said.

"We must know more about drugs before embarking on heart-planting operalions."