Since heart transplants were first pioneered in the middle of the Twentieth Century, one of the major limitations of the procedure has been the necessity for the heart to keep beating within its donor before being relocated. In cases where the donor has reached the end of their life, or is brain-dead, doctors have not had a way to keep the heart alive before conducting the transplant.
A team of surgeons from Royal Papworth Hospital in England have found a solution to the problem, in a world-first invention.
Dubbed the heart-in-a-box, the TransMedics Organ Care System enables doctors to reanimate hearts that have stopped beating. To restart a heart outside the body of the donor enables more procedures to be conducted, giving hope to those waiting anxiously for a transplant.
Thanks to this machine, hearts can be donated in circumstances where it would otherwise have been impossible. It is therefore hoped the invention will help reduce waiting times for heart transplants and give new life to many.
Indeed this ground-breaking invention has already saved lives in the UK. Already six children have received a heart transplant, thanks to the TransMedics Organ Care System.
To read the heart-warming account of the heart recipients, visit https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/feb/21/uk-doctors-pioneer-use-of-heart-in-a-box-transplant-technique-in-children.