New Transport Technology Enables Successful Transplant From a Heart That’s Stopped Beating
Community Regional Medical Center’s trauma staff helped facilitate the second-ever West Coast donation of a heart after circulatory death for a successful transplant. The new procedure could increase organ donation by up to 30%.
Until recently, only hearts from patients who had been declared brain dead, but were still on life support, were recovered for transplantation in the United States. An assessment of the heart’s function had to be done while still beating to see if it could be used for transplant. And then the heart had to be secured on ice and transplanted within 4-6 hours to ensure success.
“New technology using warm perfusion (blood flow) devices allows for additional time and we can reach more people. It provides the opportunity to increase the number of available organs and save more lives,” says John Lilley, vice president of organ operations for Donor Network West, the federally designated procurement organization for a 45-county region in central and northern California and northern Nevada.
Donor Network West works with Community Regional’s doctors, nurses and social workers to support families and identify, evaluate and recover organs for transplantation. Community Regional, home to one of California’s largest and busiest emergency departments and the region’s only Level 1 trauma center, has participated in organ donation for nearly 30 years.
Lilley says the downtown Fresno hospital has helped 11 families so far this year honor the wishes of their loved ones and choose organ donation as a way to ensure their legacy lives on, resulting in 32 organ transplants for patients waiting for a life-saving gift. “One organ donor can save up to eight lives and a tissue donor can impact the lives of as many as 75 people,” he explains.
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