Heart Valves - Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Heart Valves

The IBTS Tissue Bank incorporates the Irish Heart Valve Bank and performs testing, processing, cryopreservation, storage and distribution of donated Irish Heart Valves.

Human Heart Valves, or homografts, are a biological alternative to mechanical valve replacement and are used to replace or reconstruct damaged or malformed heart valves. Homografts have a number of advantages over mechanical/synthetic valves as they carry a lower risk of endocarditis infection, the do not require the recipient to take life-long anticoagulation therapy and when implanted in younger recipients, they can actually grow along with the recipient reducing the need for multiple future surgeries.

The Heart Valve bank processes multiple types of cardiovascular tissue, including aortic and pulmonary valves, arterial vessel conduits, “patch” grafts and valve leaflets. Unlike organs, the donated tissue can be preserved and stored for up to 5 years in specialised cryogenic liquid nitrogen freezers, allowing surgeons to select the most suitable tissue available for their patients from the bank.

Heart Valves can be donated by deceased multi-organ donors, neonatal donors or living “Domino” (explant) donors after consent for donation is obtained from the donor or the next of kin. Explant donors are people who have received a heart transplant and can then help other patients by choosing to donate the valves from their removed (explanted) heart.

More information about the Irish Heart Valve Bank, heart valves and their use in cardiothoracic surgery is available from  http://www.mater.ie/services/cardiothoracic-surgery/