Successful world first for the PEGASE project: a heart transplant preserved for 12 hours

It’s a world first: Prof. Guillaume Lebreton has successfully performed the 1st heart transplant after transport across the Atlantic Ocean, keeping the heart for 12 hours instead of the usual maximum of 4. The heart transplant took place last January at the Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière (Paris).

Read the interview below with Prof. Guillaume Lebreton, cardiac surgeon in Prof. Pascal Leprince’s team (Cardiac Surgery Department at La Pitié-Salpêtrière – AP-HP, Sorbonne University, Inserm and IHU ICAN).

See the press release

Professor Lebreton, could you tell us about this exceptional transplant?

“It all started with a call from the Agence de la Biomédecine, who informed us of the availability of a heart transplant in the French West Indies, and the good news that we had a compatible recipient at the Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, awaiting a heart transplant and meeting the criteria of the PEGASE protocol.

Then it was a race against time to preserve the graft. We had to react very quickly to organize this cardiac sampling in overseas France. The team needed for the PEGASE study to run smoothly was flown from Orly to the West Indies on a standard commercial flight (Air France). The team includes a perfusionist and a cardiac surgeon. When we arrived in the West Indies, we were able to achieve the following in a very short time cardiac graft harvesting on the donor according to the usual procedures and position it with all the necessary precautions in the hypothermic and oxygenated preservation device (XVIVO Heart Assist Transport™) only 16 minutes after aortic clamping.

We then repatriated him to Paris on a scheduled flight the same day, and the transplant was carried out as soon as we arrived the following morning in the operating room of the cardiac surgery department at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, after more than 12 hours of preservation. Today the patient is doing well, discharged from hospital 30 days later, and has recovered his cardiac function perfectly well.”

“All these special logistics involving the Agence de la biomédecine, the West Indies university hospitals, Air France, the Paris and West Indies airports, and the various government departments had been carefully prepared and anticipated for several months.”

Which players were involved in this fine teamwork?

“This exceptional teamwork was a success thanks to the upstream work of the teams from IHU ICAN and AP-HP, as well as the invaluable help of our various partners, including the Agence de la Biomédecine, which coordinated the organ retrieval, Air France, as well as on-site hospital teams in the West Indies, and here in Pitié-Salpêtrière (paramedical and medical-surgical teams, cardiologists, anesthetists, resuscitators and surgeons), who made this heart transplant possible as part of the PEGASE pilot study.

We would like to thank all those who have supported us and continue to support us in carrying out the PEGASE study: our partners and sponsors (Adicare, Air France, Bouygues), XVIVO and all the collectors and donors of the 2023 Heroes’ Race) and, more broadly, all the people who have been heavily involved in this project and without whom it would not be possible.”

What does the future hold for heart transplantation?

“This first transplant is a great success for the PEGASE pilot trial! It opens up major prospects for heart transplantation, by providing better access to eligible hearts that are currently unused.

In fact, this breakthrough comes at a very opportune time, given the shortage of heart transplants this year, with the number of heart transplants down on previous years. The PEGASE study will therefore make it possible to extend the number of grafts, increase the number of heart transplants, and thus save many lives.”

“However, PEGASE is not yet fully financed: we still need the public’s generosity to bring this project to fruition. A total of 7 patients are to be transplanted as part of this pilot study. I would like to thank all those who will be able to support this wonderful project!

Contact us to find out more!

Would you like to find out more about the PEGASE pilot trial? If you would like to join us in supporting this highly innovative project to accelerate advances in heart transplantation, please contact Francine Trocmé (Communications and Philanthropy Director) by e-mail at or by telephone on 06 81 64 97 88.