Since 2003, and as the first center in Germany, the Heart and Diabetes Center NRW has been approved by Detmold District Administration for the preparation of human heart valves. In December 2011, the tissue bank was then certified according to §§20 b and 20 c AMG and authorized by the supreme Federal authority (Paul Ehrlich Institute) according to § 21 a AMG for the production of heart valves and blood vessels.
The demand for heart valves and blood vessels in Germany is estimated at around 500 preparations per year. Human heart valves and blood vessels have considerable advantages over artificial prostheses. Blood vessels can be transplanted in the legs, abdomen and thorax, as well as the head and neck. A transplant can become necessary in conjunction with a heart valve disease, a non-treatable vascular occlusion, a severe constriction (stenosis) of the vessels or thrombosis. The main indication for a blood vessel or heart valve transplant is to replace an infected artificial prosthesis in the region of the aorta and major arteries. These transplants often constitute emergency surgery.
A donor might be a deceased person who has given prior consent, but whose complete heart turns out to be unsuitable for transplantation; or, as is often the case, a transplant patient whose heart is removed and replaced with a healthy one. Unlike the muscle itself, the valves of the removed heart are often fully functional. Tissue transplants are supplied throughout Europe.