According to a recent report on iflscience.com, a new system designed by Transmedics, called The Organ Care System, or “heart in a box”, is now available for those who need to revive dead hearts. It likely won’t work with broken relationships, but it’s a new advancement in transplant technology and the exciting thing is that it could make hearts that were ineligible for donation in the past, now candidates for saving lives.
Up until now, hearts that could be donated were limited to hearts obtained from patients who had been declared brain-dead but who still had a functioning body with a beating vital organ.
The technology of The Organ Care System, labelled the world’s only portable heart perfusion system, has greatly widened this pool of potential donors. The group now includes hearts that have experienced ‘circulatory death’. The ‘heart in a box’ can reanimate a heart that has stopped beating, as long as it is still warm and coming straight from the donor.
How does it work? The Organ Care System keeps hearts warm and supplies oxygen, blood and nutrients to the organ via tubes that are fastened on with clamps, allowing the heart to continue beating, while being moved from a donor to a recipient.
Before this development, hearts were cooled for transplantation, and might only last hours before being used. The new Transmedics device allows organs to exist outside a functioning body for much longer than before.
Lungs can last up to a day without needing to be cooled down for preservation.
So far, The Organ Care System has successfully reanimated hearts from donors in 15 cases, after the donor has died, and so horizons look good.
While the ‘heart in a box’ system comes with a pricey tag, at $250, 000 a box, if its use becomes widespread, the results could mean a large shift in survival rates for patients at risk, which is good news for all.