UCT team in innovation of heart valves



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As South Africa prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first human heart transplant next weekend, a team of local surgeons, doctors and medical engineers have made another breakthrough.

The team has created an affordable plastic heart valve. , which can be mbad produced.

It is aimed at millions of patients in developing countries, mostly young people suffering from rheumatic heart disease, who would otherwise die without open heart surgery. The valve was invented and manufactured by an emerging UCT company Strait Access Technologies after eight years of research.

About 150 patients with rheumatic heart disease will have this valve inserted next year as part of a clinical trial.

Professor Peter Zilla, Head of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Christian Barnard at UCT led the team that developed the valve. He said that unlike open-heart surgery, which requires expensive machines and specialized hospitals, the valve could be inserted by a general surgeon through a small incision.

Around 33 million people worldwide live with rheumatic heart disease. The condition begins as a throat infection. The infection leads to an immune response that damages the patient's heart valves. It mainly affects children, adolescents and young adults who live in poor communities.

The breakthrough occurs on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the first heart transplant performed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard at the Groote Schuur Hospital on December 3, 1967. [19659008]! function (f, b, e, v, n, t, s) {
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