Moving hearts: Loyola introduces new organ transport system

Chicago-based Loyola Medicine is the first in Illinois to use a new cardiac transport system to complete a heart transplant, the academic health system said Nov. 12.

The Paragonix SherpaPak System involves a canister that monitors temperature, eliminating the need to pack the organ in ice. Compared to the traditional transportation method, where the heart is placed in a preservation solution in an ice-filled cooler, the new technology reduces the risk of freezing the donor heart, according to a news release. 

The system maintains a stable thermal environment for donor organs for more than 40 hours. 

"We're very excited to be the first in Illinois to utilize this technology," said Edwin McGee Jr., MD, surgical director of heart transplantation and ventricular assist device program at Loyola Medicine. Dr. McGee added that after using this transportation method, there was no wait time for the heart to warm up. The recipient required less medicine to wake up the donor heart, and minimal medication to keep it moving during recovery compared to what's typically required with the traditional method, Dr. McGee said. 

"Allocation of donor hearts changed in 2018 to prioritize sicker patients, often meaning longer procurement runs. The SherpaPak can mitigate some of the risk associated with longer ischemic times," he said. 

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