Innovative transport for donor hearts


A new high-tech organ care system (OCS) is able to maintain the health of a heart en route to a patient for transplantation.

The device, developed by TransMedics in the US, revives the heart to a beating state and provides oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the organ whilst maintaining an appropriate temperature.

The OCS could expand the donor pool by safely transporting donor hearts across longer distances, commented Dr Abbas Ardheli, Surgical Director of the heart and lung transplantation program at UCLA.

The technology would also improve donor-heart function and could potentially help transplant teams assess donor hearts more accurately, as the organs can be tested and monitored in the device over a longer period of time.

Dr Ardehali said: “If we can find ways to improve upon our limited supply of hearts, then more lives will be saved.”

The study began in 2009 and is being led by UCLA’s Heart Transplant Programme. The randomised trial will involve a total of 128 patients, half of whose donor hearts will be transported the traditional way, and the other half will receive hearts via the new device.

TransMedics is a medical device company based in Boston, Massachusetts that focuses on organ transplant technologies.