‘A second chance at life’ – 30-year-old becomes Ireland’s first person to have a heart-liver transplant


The first patient to have a heart and liver transplant in Ireland late last year today spoke of his joy as his new life.

Artin Malinowski (30), originally from Poland and living in Monaghan for thirteen years, is the first person in Ireland to receive a combined heart and liver transplant at Dublin’s Mater Hospital.

He underwent surgery on two organs at Mater before Christmas and is now recovering very well.

A hospital spokeswoman said today that two surgical transplant teams – one from Mater Hospital’s National Heart and Lung Unit and the other from St Vincent’s University Hospital’s National Liver Transplant Unit – worked together on the complex operation.

He was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver due to hepatitis C in early 2019.

The cirrhosis subsequently put a significant strain on Martin’s heart and he developed cardiomyopathy, which caused his heart’s chambers to enlarge and not be able to pump blood efficiently throughout his body, leading to heart failure.

He said today: “After a year and a half of health difficulties, my condition deteriorated significantly in the summer of 2021. I had to be rushed to the hospital immediately with a critically low heart rate. I required an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) to regulate my heart and was quickly put on the transplant list by my medical team.”

dr Emer Joyce, a transplant cardiologist at Mater Hospital, initial tests showed that Martin had two independently serious medical conditions that also interacted with one another, causing Martin’s condition to progress more quickly.

“Although more than one serious organ disease can render a patient ineligible for transplantation, heart failure associated with cirrhotic cardiomyopathy is one of the rare indications for combined cardiac and liver transplantation can be considered.

“A heart and liver transplant is a major undertaking for a transplant team, and it is an extremely rare procedure, with about 200 ever performed in the United States and many fewer worldwide. Once Martin was identified as a potential candidate, our heart transplant team at Mater worked closely with our colleagues at St Vincent’s on a very detailed plan, protocol and procedure over several multidisciplinary meetings to prepare Martin for the best possible chance of a successful outcome .”

dr Zita Galvin, Transplant Hepatologist at St Vincent’s Hospital said: “This procedure has never been tried before in Ireland and there is limited experience worldwide. Every aspect of Martin’s care, including the pre-transplant course, the donor selection process, the details of the transplant and the post-operative critical care course was carefully discussed and planned.”

Martin was at home in Castleblayney when he got the call and his transplant took place at Mater Hospital late last year.

The operation began with Mr Jonathan McGuinness and his team at Mater Hospital performing the heart transplant, followed by SVUH’s Mr Justin Geoghegan who transplanted the liver from the same donor.

Several medical professionals, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, critical care physicians, medics, nurses, laboratory and transplant coordinators from both hospitals were involved in Martin’s care. During recovery, teams from Mater and SVUH participated in multidisciplinary and multi-site rounds twice a day.

The operation was a resounding success and after a month of convalescence at Mater, Martin was discharged home. Now he is already seeing the significant benefits of his new heart and liver and is returning to normal.

He said: “I’m really grateful to my transplant and medical teams at Mater and SVUH. But I especially want to thank my donor for giving me a second chance. Without her I simply wouldn’t be here today. Now I can look forward to the next phase of my life.”

The Mater and St. Vincent teams praised his positivity.

dr Joyce said, “Martin has a wonderful appreciation and methodical way of dealing with his condition and he has made an exceptionally good recovery from the transplant. The fact that this is a first for Ireland and that it took place during the Covid-19 pandemic really underscores the strength of Ireland’s transplant teams and the importance of cross-hospital collaboration.”

Professor Jim Egan, Director of HSE Organ Donation Transplant Ireland said: “Organ donation saves lives. Martin’s remarkable recovery and the fact that this is the first heart and liver transplant performed in Ireland is only made possible by organ donation. We ask everyone to discuss this life-saving issue with their families.” ‘A second chance at life’ – 30-year-old becomes Ireland’s first person to have a heart-liver transplant

Fry Electronics Team

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