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Device Keeps Transplantable Hearts Healthy During Transport

Sept. 4, 2015
The device has been shown to increase the number of donated hearts accepted by surgeons for safe implantation.
Photo courtesy of Alamy

Like many other organs for transplant, a heart must be harvested from a brain-dead donor with a healthy, functioning body. During transport, the heart is stored at low temperatures to pause the heartbeat until implantation.

However, cold storage commonly results in cold ischemia—damage to the heart tissue due to insufficient blood supply. To remedy this, TransMedics invented the Organ Care System (OCS). The OCS heart-transport box is a portable perfusion system that drenches the heart with oxygenated blood during transport, maintaining it at a near-physiological and metabolically active state. OCS also monitors key parameters to ensure that the heart is safe to implant in a patient.

It’s been shown that the OCS has increased the number of transplants accepted by surgeons, as well as led to improved post-transplant outcomes. More acceptable donations will ultimately reduce the pre-implantation waiting period, and the cost of patient care.

The OCS HEART is commercially available in Europe and Australia, but not in the United States. 

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