Nov 202013


The waiting list for donor hearts could be slashed by pioneering research from Australian doctors that could increase the supply of the organs by up to 50 per cent.

A team from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney has found a way to protect hearts that have already stopped beating, in what is known as circulatory or cardiac death, and bring them back to life outside the human body.

Peter Macdonald, the co-head of the Transplantation Research Laboratory at Victor Chang, said up until now doctors had not been able to use the hearts from people who donated their organs after brain injury caused by things such as car accidents because of the complex process involved in turning off life support and ensuring death has occurred.

”Once you withdraw life support there is no oxygen going into the body and all the organs are suffering,” Professor Macdonald said.

His team has developed a solution to prevent heart cells from dying. They then take the heart and attach it to a machine that pumps the donor’s blood into it, kick-starting it to begin working again outside the body while it waits to be implanted.

”When we warm the blood to body temperature the heart will spontaneously start beating again,” he said.

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