A new device being tested at UCLA Medical Center in California is use to deliver heart ready for transplant. Traditionally organs are delivered on ice from the organ donor site to the recipient hospital. As soon as the heart is removed from the body it is put on ice in a cooler and has to be used within 4 hours. The heart is then on pause and race against time starts so the heart spends as little time as possible without blood flow and oxygen.
When UCLA surgeon, Dr Abbas Ardehali, did a heart transplant on one of their patient lately, he did not remove the heart from ice; he removed it from an experimental device where the heart keeps pumping blood in a near physiological state and is also being oxygenated. We once had the first beating heart bypass surgery and now we have the first beating heart transplant surgery!
This is great news for future heart transplant recipient if the device becomes FDA approved. Its name is The Organ Care System (OCS) and has been developed by TransMedics out of Andover, MA in the USA. This company has also commercialized OCS for lungs perfusion that is used in Europe at this time and in clinical trials in the US at major transplant centers.
These two devices, if they perform as intended will be a major breakthrough for organ transplantation. They allow for the organ to remain outside of the body longer with minimal ischemic (lack of oxygen) injury. Potentially more organ could be recovered and more rejection could be prevented since more time for testing is available. Another benefit would allow for more heart transplant surgery to be performed during daytime or at least more normal hours.
So keep watching, you may see an Organ Care System device in a transplant center near you very soon!