BEIJING - A 12-year-old boy successfully underwent a heart transplant surgery at Anzhen Hospital in Beijing after receiving the organ hours before the surgery.
The boy, surnamed Bao, is recovering after the May 2 surgery, though he still needs another month of treatment before he can be discharged from the hospital, said Pan Yuchen, one of the doctors who performed the surgery.
Pan is the director of the cardiac surgery department of the No 181 Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, where the organ donation was carried out on the afternoon of May 2.
The donor was a 21-year-old man surnamed Ye who was suffering from a brain tumour and was receiving treatment in Guangxi. Ye's family members agreed to donate his organs after he was pronounced brain-dead.
On May 1, Ye was transferred to Pan's hospital and doctors harvested his organs, including his heart, the next day.
On May 2 at 6 pm, Pan took a flight to Anzhen Hospital carrying Ye's heart. He later helped perform the surgery to transplant the heart to Bao, who had been suffering from severe heart failure, that night.
"He also underwent surgery for ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) on April 30, but he would have lasted no more than 7 days without a heart transplant," Pan said.
In China, the proximity of donor and patient is the main factor in the waiting list for donations, meaning a patient in need of an organ in Guangxi would normally be given priority for an organ donated in the region. But because Bao's condition was very severe, he was given priority over others on the waiting list, Pan added.
The boy is in the intensive care unit, said Yu Liqun, a public relations official at Anzhen Hospital.
"I want to thank all of the friends who cared about an ordinary family like us," said Bao's father. "I hope my son will recover as soon as possible. Not until he is transferred to a ward can I set my mind at ease."
At 11 pm on May 1, a netizen posted a message on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, that caught the attention of the public: "I implore that ... flight CZ3287 of China Southern Airlines from Guilin to Beijing will take off on time on May 2, as an organ will be on that flight. My child urgently needs the organ to save his life."
Bao's father said the message was posted by a family member.
The flight, which Pan was on, arrived in Beijing at 8:20 pm on May 2, 35 minutes earlier than scheduled, China Southern Airlines said on its Sina Weibo account.
Pan said Bao was lucky.
"Many patients who need a heart donation die while waiting," he said.