Severance Hospital has become the first Korean hospital to successfully transplant a new heart to a patient suffering from Behcet's disease.
|Professor Yoon Young-nam holds the hand of his patient, Lee Seung-young during a regular checkup after the surgery at Severance hospital in Sinchon, Seoul.|
The patient, named Lee Seung-young, needed to receive the transplant after the hospital diagnosed him with Behcet's disease in January last year. After a close examination, the hospital confirmed that the inflammation caused by Behcet's disease had spread extensively around Lee's aortic valves. The disease was so severe that Lee showed symptoms of severe dyspnea due to aortic regurgitation, pulmonary edema, and aortic dissection.
Behçet's disease is a type of inflammatory disorder which affects multiple parts of the body. The most common symptoms include painful mouth sores, genital sores, inflammation of parts of the eye, and arthritis.
In rare cases such as Lee's, however, Behcet's disease inflammation can lead to heart or cardiovascular disease. In such cases, the condition can exacerbate into a severe cardiovascular disease resulting in valvular heart disease or acute or thrombotic in the arteries and veins.
The hospital immediately conducted a prosthetic valve replacement and immunosuppressive drug therapy, while replacing his blood vessels affected by inflammation with artificial ones. As the inflammation in the cardiovascular system was so extensive, however, the hospital did not see much progress and decided to give Lee a heart transplant.
While waiting for a heart donor, Lee suffered from massive hemorrhage and cardiac arrest and needed an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation device to help him survive. Fortunately, Lee was able to receive a heart transplant from a brain-dead donor and went back to his daily life this month after recovering from his symptoms.
"It is well-known that the survival rate is very low when inflammation of the Behcet's disease invades the main blood vessels around the heart," said Professor Yoon Young-nam, a member of the team that conducted the surgery. "Therefore, the surgery is very significant as it marks the first case in Korea where such a patient got to return to his daily life after receiving the heart transplant."
Patients diagnosed with Behcet's disease should have regular cardiovascular checkups, including echocardiography, even if there are no specific symptoms, Yoon added.