Taiwan woman gets transplant after heart failure caused by bee sting

Patient suffered heart failure in October 2018, on life support 50 days before successful procedure at NTU Hospital

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The patient, center, surrounded by medical professionals, friends and family (Photo from NTU Hospital)

The patient, center, surrounded by medical professionals, friends and family (Photo from NTU Hospital)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Friday (July 12), National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital held an event recognizing the work of doctors and medical professionals for successfully providing a heart transplant for a 38 year old woman who suffered from heart failure and was on life support for 50 days after a terrifying reaction to a bee sting.

The woman, surnamed Chen (陳), was stung by a bee on her left arm during a trip to Japan in October 2018. After she returned to Taiwan from her trip, she developed a fever and severe itching that started from the area of the sting. After she developed irregular heart palpitations, she went to see a doctor about her condition.

It was fortunate that she made it see a doctor in time, because the severity of her problems quickly escalated, resulting in heart failure and the immediate need for a transplant. Her complications all arose from a simple bee sting.

Unfortunately, no donor hearts were immediately available, with a minimum wait time of 50 days. Fortunately, doctors at NTU Hospital were able to keep her on life support in a catatonic state for the long wait. No doubt, this was a frightening period of time for Chen’s family and friends.

Following the heart failure, and over the long wait period, Chen suffered from more problems that worsened her already precarious situation, including acute renal failure, some internal bleeding, and a dangerously low white blood cell count, which necessitated continuous blood transfusions.

The low white blood cell count also drastically increased the chances that her body would reject a potential heart transplant. However, overcoming all odds, doctors successfully completed the transplant in December 2018 after the excruciatingly long wait period.

At the press event on Friday where doctors explained the details of the patient’s case and the operation, Miss Chen was in attendance and appeared to be healthy and happy after her terrifying ordeal.

Liberty Times quotes Chen Yi-Hsiang (陳益祥) as saying that the patient’s condition was likely caused by an extreme allergic reaction to the bee sting which resulted in myocarditis. Myocarditis is a serious inflammation of the heart muscle, which ultimately resulted in the heart being unable to function and then shutting down.

According to the report, Chen’s body readily accepted the new heart, and her case represents the longest anyone in Taiwan has had to wait for a transplant, and who then suffered no complications following the procedure.