Atrium Health uses new technology to preserve donor hearts for transplants

Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute's heart transplant team is using technology that keeps hearts viable for up to eight hours, instead of the traditional four, the organization said Sept. 8.

The "TransMedics Organ Care System" keeps hearts viable while being transported to a heart transplant recipient. Previously, hearts had a 4-hour cold storage limitation.

The OCS expands the donor pool, allowing the hospital to expand its acceptance radius to 1,000 miles, and allowing for the acceptance of higher-risk hearts.

The FDA approved the use of the device in April 2022. A study found that recipients of an OCS preserved heart had a 93.3 percent one-year survival rate compared to 87.3 percent among the control group.

"Once a heart is removed from a deceased donor due to cardiac death, the portable system revives the heart and keeps it beating, infusing it with blood from the donor that is supplemented with nutrients and oxygen," Eric Skipper, MD, a cardiothoracic heart transplant surgeon at Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, said in the release. "The system also allows us to carefully assess the heart's functional quality and viability for transplant before we reach the operating room to perform the transplant."

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