An old Facebook post claiming that a woman’s failing heart was replaced with a cow’s heart is back in circulation. The bizarre claim is based on a half-truth.
By Tej Kumar
According to a viral Facebook post (in Telugu) an 81-year-old woman from Hyderabad, suffering from a heart-related ailment, got a new lease of life after doctors in Chennai performed an unusual cardiac transplant surgery on her. The lady’s diseased heart was, apparently, replaced with a healthy cow’s heart!
Apart from countless views, likes and shares on social media, the post also got picked up by some regional media outlets. Needless to say, this has caused a lot of misinformation about how heart transplants actually work, particularly in the case of patients waiting for a donor heart.
First things first, a cow’s heart was not used as a donor heart in the case of the 81-year-old patient, as claimed in the Facebook post. A news article from 2015 clearly states that the patient, suffering from a narrowing of the heart valve, needed a heart valve replacement. She had a bio-prosthetic valve made from cow’s heart tissue fixed by the surgeons. An open heart surgery wasn’t a viable option, given the patient’s advanced age and medical history.
In other words, a valve made from cow heart tissue was implanted into the human heart. The cow’s heart wasn’t used in place of the human heart, as suggested by the misleading post.
Experts concur that bioprosthetic valves are commonly used for heart valve replacement. Tissue valves are created from animal donors’ valves or tissue that’s strong and flexible.
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