A method for “reanimating” organ donors’ hearts works just as well as the standard approach to collecting hearts for transplantation, new trial data shows. If widely applied, the method could increase the heart donor pool by an estimated 30%.
“Honestly if we could snap our fingers and just get people to use this, I think it probably would go up even more than that,” Dr. Jacob Schroder, a transplant surgeon at the Duke University School of Medicine who led the trial, told The Associated Press. “This really should be standard of care.”
Most transplanted hearts come from brain-dead donors, who’ve died due to a complete loss of brain activity, rather than circulatory death, in which the heart stops. A brain-dead patient can be declared dead before their heart stops beating, and this allows doctors to remove the heart while it’s still perfused with oxygen-rich blood and therefore not yet damaged by a lack of oxygen. The heart is then flushed with a preservation solution, placed in an ice-filled cooler and rushed to its recipient.
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