This Extraordinary Heart Transplant Technique Saves Hearts and Lives

Warm perfusion is a more effective method for preserving donor hearts leading up to surgery.
Chris Young

Jacob Niall Schroder, Director of the Heart Transplantation Program at Duke University recently sent out a series of tweets detailing the benefits of warm perfusion.

Warm perfusion is a technique used in transplants that keeps the donor heart pumping while it is being preserved for surgery.

This improves the adverse effects of organ degradation that occur in the more traditional method of keeping organs in a cooling box.


Heart to argue

In a tweet written on August 3, Niall Schroder outlined a warm perfusion procedure and said it was "hard to argue" with the results:

As Niall Schroder points out, this heart would have been rejected in most U.S. centers as it had been out of the body past a certain time threshold - 75 minutes in this case.

The method, by Transmedics, has been shown to allow for a successful transplant even with ten hours out-of-body time.

Technology that mirrors the human body

Transmedics' OCS is a portable device that keeps donor organs in a human-like state. The technology is used to imitate the conditions of the human body by keeping the heart pumping and at a warm temperature.

A substantial body of clinical evidence, the company says, shows that it improves results compared to the current standard of cooling organs. 

Niall Schroder assured that the patient, whose case he outlined, was doing well and that he wanted his story shared to show how effective the method had been in saving his life:

The main benefit, as Niall Schroder points out, is that this method can "significantly expand the donor pool" by decreasing the amount of rejected and unused donor hearts.

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