Surgeons in the UK are using a pioneering technology that keeps a donor’s heart pumping outside the body


Heart in a box, better known as Organ Care System, devised by Harefield Hospital, Middlesex is a revolutionary technology that has enabled surgeons to carry out heart transplants with ease and flexibility. This system stimulates the conditions of the human body, pumping oxygenated blood inside the heart so it can continue to function as it would inside a living person. It has extended the time span of keeping the heart outside the body from 3 hours to 8 hours.

Simply said, it keeps the heart pumping outside the body till it has been transplanted into the donor’s body and gives ample time to check post-transplant failure. Earlier, all donor organs used to be placed in a cool box, enclosed by ice, in order to save them from degenerating while they move between hospitals. But Korkut Uygun, a transplant surgeon said that “cold is the old thing, warm is the new thing”

Surgeons here have successfully cured many patients with heart ailments through this procedure and lessened their risk of getting a non-functioning organ. The OCS is life-saving for the patients who are kept on an “artificial heart”, which is not so effective and overwhelms the functioning of other organs too. These patients require further surgery before the actual transplant takes place thus the organ is often given to the people who can be operated quickly. Heart in a box buys them time and a chance at life.

After this headway, the Harefield hospital has performed on 17 artificial heart patients compared with 7 in the previous three years. Hospitals have begun accepting “marginal” organs which were considered to be perilous before. Now distance is no more the reason for rejection. Lee Hall was the first person to benefit from OCS. Thanks to the technology now he can see his son grow into a man. Heart in a box has become a leap to the future and is another triumph of technology which can change the lives of innumerable individuals, keeping their heart beating and thriving.

UJJWALA SINHA & SWETTA SRIVASTAV | TOC

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