Heart transplant performed in Portugal distinguished with the National Health Prize


The main reason for the award of this award was the “pioneering of cardiac transplantation” of João Queiroz and Melo, as well as his “services provided in teaching and diffusion of advanced methods in the treatment of heart disease”.

“His vast work in the field of national cardiological research and culture” was something that was considered by the jury, composed of Walter Osswald, who presided, of the canons of the orders of Physicians, Nurses, Pharmacists, Dentists, Psychologists, of Biologists and also of Nutritionists.

The jury also included the director of the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the director of the National School of Public Health.

The National Health Prize of the Portuguese Ministry of Health aims to distinguish all the years, “for the relevance and excellence in the field of health sciences, in its aspects of promotion, prevention and health care delivery, a personality that has unequivocally contributed to the achievement of health gains or the prestige of health organizations under the National Health Service (SNS)”.

In January last year, 30 years after the first heart transplant in Portugal, the surgeon Queiroz e Melo told Lusa that this event placed his team in stardom, but also brought death threats, at a time when the harvest still controversial subject matter.

The patient Eva Pinto was selected and received the heart of a donor from Coimbra, whose organ arrived by helicopter. The success of the operation, which lasted for 4 hours, was reported in the midnight news report and this was how the guardianship (the Minister of Health was Leonor Beleza) became aware of the fact.

João Queiroz e Melo also recalled that “the patient in question was a lady of faith, of great mysticism, believed very much in life”.

According to the note from the DGS, João Queiroz e Melo performed the specialty of cardiothoracic surgery at Santa Marta Hospital, with Professor Machado Macedo (1979). Also during this period, he was in London (United Kingdom), and Portland and Boston (USA), in order to deepen his professional formation.

Already in 2009, the surgeon promoted the beginning of implantation of percutaneous valves transpical and transfemural, being the creator and responsible for the worldwide registry of atrial fibrillation surgery.