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Beating Heart Transplant Surgery Successful In UK - Could Help Donor Organ Shortage

June 9th 2006

Beating Heart Transplant Surgery Successful In UK - Could Help Donor Organ Shortage


A new technique may make it possible to transplant organs that would otherwise not be transplantable.  The new device, called the TransMedics Organ Care System, could increase the pool of acceptable donor hearts by allowing surgeons to transplant otherwise marginal donor organs.

Two weeks ago, doctors in the United Kingdom (UK) performed the world’s first “beating heart transplant”.  If approved in the US, it could increase the donor supply and solve a chronic organ shortage crisis, ABC News correspondent Bharathi Radhakrishan recently reported. 

The system, developed in Boston, is a specialized machine that keeps the heart beating and warm until it is ready to be used.  This would eliminate the need for packing the heart on ice, like the current method entails.


The hospital in the UK is one of four in Europe taking part in the trial.  The donor heart is removed from the deceased patient and immediately connected to the Organ Care System.  The system revives the heart and sustains it with oxygen and blood at the correct temperature. 

It is hoped that the new system will be used to conduct checks on the donor heart before transplant operations.  Normally, surgeons have just six hours to get a donated heart into a patient.  Earth Times reports this new technique raise the number of potential donors by at least 50%. Professor Bruce Rosengard who conducted the transplant procedure said "We know from experiments in the lab that we can maintain it for at least eight to 12 hours”.


This should not be confused with a recent Stanford technique called “beating heart surgery”.  Dr. Kai Ihnken developed a technique for repositioning the heart while the heart remains beating in the chest.  This allows the doctor to perform bypass surgery without using a heart lung machine.

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Best Syndication

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:51 PM