ORLANDO, Fla – A new innovative organ care system is making more hearts available to those who need them.
For more than two years, George Martin battled the side effects of severe swine flu.
“I’ve got to the point where I couldn’t even put on flip flops, my feet were so swollen.”
The flu destroyed his heart muscles and was diagnosed with heart failure.
“It attacked my heart, it enlarged my heart, it basically wiped out the left side of my heart.
He was put on the new heart transplant list and called twice about available donor hearts, only to find out later that they were not viable.
“If they’re on the waiting list, they’re in limbo,” said Dr. Scott Silvestry, director of transplant programs at the AdventHealth Transplant Institute.
300,000 Americans die of heart failure each year, and 3,000 patients in the US have access to a donor heart
That means only one percent of people who need a heart will get it on time.
Most transplants are from donors who are brain dead because doctors can still assess the working heart.
Now dead hearts can be brought back to life with the help of the TransMedics Organ Care system.
“The heart is actually put on a big pump where it gets oxygenated blood, and we monitor the heart’s metabolism,” said Dr. Silvestry.
George is part of TransMedics’ clinical study for the organ care system.
The study is currently being conducted in 12 transplant centers across the country (the closest is at Indiana University). In the year and a half so far, 40 hearts have been used.
“We can resuscitate the heart, assess the function of the heart, and transport the heart and bring it back here,” said heart transplant surgeon Dr. Don Botta.
This machine keeps a heart viable for six to eight hours after it initially stops beating, compared to four to six hours for standard heart transplants.
“It has the potential to save three to four thousand additional patients a year who need a heart transplant to live,” predicted Dr. Silvestry.
And doctors are no longer tied to the age of the heart.
“When certain metabolic parameters are met, we know that the heart is good enough,” said Dr. Silvestry.
“So we wouldn’t look at the heart and say this is from a young person or an old person. We just look at the heart’s metabolism after it starts again and make decisions about whether it is appropriate to use it.” meet someone and help them live normally for the rest of their lives. “
George was one of the first two patients to have this done in his hospital and he is very grateful.
“It just opens up a world of possibilities.”
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