Two Hearts: Heterotopic Heart Transplant


A complex organ like the heart deals with not only pumping blood to keep organs well-perfused but also emotional trauma and heartbreaks.  Many of us have trouble dealing with one. To think about having two hearts is nearly unimaginable.

In the case of Mr Smith, He has got two of them by a rare heart transplantation ‘Heterotopic heart transplant’.

38 years old Mr Tyson Smith suffered from an illness that enlarged his heart three times the normal size. This is commonly referred to as Dilated Cardiomyopathy. He required heart transplantation but due to the development of pulmonary hypertension. It was clear that the new heart would undergo failure too. There were two options; the left ventricular assist device placement followed by a standard heart transplant and the Piggyback heart transplant also known as a heterotopic heart transplant. The former option meant two surgeries while the latter required only one.

The procedure of Heterotopic Heart Transplant

The Heterotopic Heart Transplant (HHT) is a procedure in which the donor’s heart is placed on the right side of the recipient’s heart. The old heart is not removed. The donor’s aorta connects to the recipient’s aorta. The donor’s pulmonary artery connects to the recipient’s right atrium allowing both hearts to send blood to the lungs and both hearts’ left atrium are joined together. Similarly, superior vena cava is also joined to the right atrium.

The team from the UC San Diego Center for Transplantation performed the procedure. The procedure took place on the 14th of February so bringing two hearts together quite literally.

The operation was a success and doctors expect this additional heart to add at least 10 more years to the patient’s life. Smith was discharged after two weeks. He also commented how he felt stronger and better after the rare, life-saving procedure making the following quote fit perfectly:


Two hearts must come with a big price tag. They do but less than even half of the standard transplantation cost. HHT costs around $100,000 compared to $500,000 for a usual heart transplant


  1. I learned if pulmonary hypertension there — new heart placed — it also go for heart failure ..
    The strongest heart has more scars —- its true


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