Keeping A Warm Heart for Transplant
The human body maintains a constant temperature of more than 98 degrees. Yet when an organ is removed for transplant, it’s quickly put on ice and transported cold. A new method of shipping transplants aims to change that.
Developed by the company TransMedics, the system keeps an organ warm and infused with blood during the hours before it’s surgically implanted into a recipient.
The method is expensive. The initial system costs $250,000 and each organ shipment container costs $45,000 and can only be used once. The method has been used several hundred times in Europe and Australia, but hasn’t yet been approved by the FDA.
Still, it’s being tested with some success.
“We can keep a donor heart out of the body longer than we would do with any cold storage method,” surgeon Martin Strueber tells The Washington Post. “The heart is not sitting in a box. It is sitting in a system and is perfused with warm blood.”