Northwestern 1st in Illinois to transplant heart after circulatory death

Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute became the first in Illinois to successfully transplant a heart donated after circulatory death.

The new technology, nicknamed "Heart in a Box," simulates the human body and pumps warm, oxygenated blood through the heart during transportation, according to a Nov. 2 release from Northwestern. The clear box also allows physicians to assess the heart for damage.

"With this technology, we can examine the heart as it beats inside this device during transport, up until it is implanted, giving us a better view and more insight into its functionality, making it possible to perform DCD transplants," Duc Thinh Pham, MD, director of heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, said in the release. "This gives us even greater confidence in an organ's viability for transplant and reassurance that it is going to be suitable for our patient."

Estimates suggest this technology could increase available donor hearts by up to 30 percent, the release said.

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