Netherlands man is recognized as longest-surviving heart transplant patient

April 2, 2024  08:14

The longest-surviving heart transplant patient has been recognized by Guinness World Records, BBC reported. 

Bert Janssen, 57, from the Netherlands, has survived almost 40 years with the donor heart he received at Harefield Hospital in Uxbridge, northwest London, in the 1980s.

At age 17, Janssen was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects the heart's ability to pump blood.

The doctors decided that a heart transplant was necessary for treatment, but at that time such operations were not performed in the Netherlands. So, Janssen's doctor turned to the Harefield Hospital, which specializes in heart diseases.

He is being treated by famous Egyptian British surgeon Magdi Yacoub, who later received a knighthood for his contribution to medicine.

The heart transplant was performed on June 6, 1984, a week after then-18-year-old Janssen was admitted to the hospital.

"It all went very fast," says the patient. " Only a week after arriving at Harefield, two hearts became available from a major car accident in London. I had a match with one of these and the heart was transplanted."

Janssen said he was "still grateful for the incredible gift" his donor gave him

According to the patient, he quickly recovered after the operation and has been living a full life since then. Now Janssen is the married father of two, who is a keen glider pilot.

"I could never imagine I would come this far," he says. " What I think is most important is that I set a benchmark for others. It is now officially proved that it is possible to come this far while having a donor heart.

"I assume the marker will yet move quite a bit further and I will be pleased if others will break my record in due course."

Janssen's operation was the 107th transplant at Harefield Hospital.

The first was carried out by Magdi Yacoub in 1980 and the center has since completed thousands of transplants, with 54 taking place in 2022/23.

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