Developed by TransMedics, a new machine called an Organ Care System is able to keep a disembodied heart alive and beating. This is revolutionary for heart transplant surgeries.
Previously, hearts intended for transplants were kept on ice while being transported from the donor to the organ receiver. As a result, it wasn’t uncommon for hearts to either sustain some damage or not arrive within the necessary six hour window a heart can survive outside a body. If the heart was received outside of this time window, the patient who needed the heart would never undergo the transplant.
Now, with the Organ Care System, hearts don’t have to be kept on ice, but can continue to pump blood and stay alive for up to 12 hours outside of a body. Some researchers believe the OCS can keep a heart alive for up to 24 hours.
In an interview with Aljazerra America, Dr. Waleed Hassanein (who founded and is the current president of TransMedics) said, “We feel very comfortable and confident in the Organ Care System’s ability to at least double the heart transplant volume over the next 5 years.”
Currently the OCS is being tested to see if it can be used for other organ transplants–there’s already been some success with lungs.