UW Medical Center keeps transplanted hearts beating

September 24, 2015

The University of Washington Medical Center Regional Heart Center is one of seven sites nationwide chosen to perform a clinical trial for a new system for transplanting warm, beating hearts. The system has been dubbed “heart in a box,” and it preserves the organ for as long as 11 hours, nearly three times longer than a heart transplanted in a cooler. The increased time allows doctors to evaluate the organ — which could increase the number of hearts fit for transplant — and transport the organ from across the country for surgery.

This is the first time doctors at UW Medical Center are able to monitor a beating heart outside the human body, as transplants come from organ donors who have been declared brain-dead but still have a functioning heart. Nationally, 400 people died waiting for a heart transplant last year, including 94 from Washington State.

We hope this trial finds great success, as it could truly revolutionize transplant surgery, providing a life-saving organ for those on the waiting list. Read more about the heart in a box in this article in The Seattle Times. (Tim Pfarr)

Across the state, hospitals and health system leaders are doing amazing work to care for their patients and communities in innovative ways. Our goal is to feature all of our 100 members at least once through the course of the year. If you are a WSHA member with a story to tell, please contact Mary Kay Clunies-Ross or Tim Pfarr.


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