|The Heart-in-a-box machine.|
Two months ago, surgeons in Sydney performed a heart transplant using a heart which had stopped beating for up to 20 minutes; this is unusual as most heart transplants use hearts from donors with a heart which is still beating. The complication with using a 'dead heart' is that without the heart pumping, a lack of oxygen is supplied to the heart muscle cells and therefore the cells can die resulting in a heart which cannot function.
To avoid this, the new method includes a machine named "heart-in-a-box" which restores the beating of the heart whilst also supplying the heart with warmth and nourishing fluids; all of these factors should enable the heart cells to survive and this will allow for the heart to be used in a transplant. It is believed that using these methods could save many more lives by increasing the amount of available organs (organs which previously had been damaged my a lack of blood circulation can now be considered for use if the procedure is carried out).
If this procedure continues to prove successful through testing with different organs, the breakthrough could have significant effects across the globe. Having this could increase the number of organs which can be used for transplants - as organ donations are already in short supply, this increase in organs saved is highly important. Alternatives to organ transplants are not always suitable so without these precious organs, patients may not survive. The decision whether this procedure could become standard procedure depends upon many factors including: the further testing results, the financial implications and the availability of resources to continue this.
To join the Organ Donor Register, click on the image below:
For further reading, see:
The Independent Report: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/australian-surgeons-perform-first-successful-dead-heart-transplants-9816729.html
TransMedics' Website: http://www.transmedics.com/wt/page/index