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‘Heart in a box’: device revives hearts that stopped beating to use them for transplant

‘Heart in a box’: device revives hearts that stopped beating to use them for transplant

‘Heart in a box’: device revives hearts that stopped beating to use them for transplant

In the difficult business of heart transplantation, one of the biggest challenges is ensuring that the donated heart is kept in good condition for the patient whose life will eventually be saved.

Until recent years, heart transplants where the heart has already stopped beating were not believed to have good patient outcomes.

“The challenge with donation after circulatory death (DCD) is that you don’t know the damage that has happened to the heart while it has stopped, so there has to be some way to assess whether this heart is actually a transplant.” viable,” explains. Yashutosh Joshi, Cardiothoracic Registrar at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

For this reason, there is usually a preference for transplants from brain-dead organ donors whose heart is still beating.

But in the past few years, the expanded use of devices such as organ care systems, which keep donated hearts beating outside the body after circulatory death, is improving outcomes for patients and keeping organs viable longer. Huh.

Doctors in Australia also say that the use of DCD Hearts has led to a significant reduction in the heart transplant waiting list in Australia.

a hot box instead of an ice box

Devices such as organ care systems regenerate blood circulation in the heart and keep it beating outside the body.

“Instead of putting the heart in a cold Eski (portable ice box) or ice box, we are placing it in an environment where we are recirculating warm oxygenated blood back to the heart,” explains Joshi.

“This warm oxygenated blood allows the heart to reactivate. It lets the heart beat and then we can assess it visually, we can do some blood tests on it and then, when it’s on that machine If it is, then we can see if it is usable or not.”

According to the Australian and New Zealand Organ Donor Registry (ANZOD), 112 heart transplants were performed in Australia last year, but between 76 and 86 people are waiting for such transplants every month.

St Vincent’s doctors have been using the device for the past eight years and say it has led to an increase in the number of heart transplants.

In the past two years, nearly a third of hospital-transplanted hearts have been donated after transfusion death.

Watch the video above in the media player for more information on this story.



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