TransMedics has announced that its Organ Care System (OCS) heart technology was used to perform the world’s first series of adult human heart transplants from donors after circulatory death (DCD donors) at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia.
All patients who received these ground breaking transplants have recovered very well. This achievement represents a pivotal new milestone in heart transplantation worldwide, and it was carried out following pioneering basic and translational research undertaken by the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital using the OCS heart technology.
The hearts were retrieved from donors whose hearts had stopped beating. Currently, these DCD donors are not considered for heart transplantation due to the limitations of cold storage preservation technique. These hearts were retrieved, resuscitated to a normal beating state and clinically assessed using the TransMedics OCS heart technology. The OCS technology platform is capable of maintaining donor organs in near physiologic and functioning state outside of the human body from the time the organ is removed from the donor until it is ready to be transplanted into a suitable recipient.
“The OCS heart system was paramount to the success of this clinical milestone in heart transplantation as it enabled us to fully assess the donor heart function and metabolic state before transplantation,” says Kumud Dhital, professor of cardiothoracic surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital and the lead surgeon who performed the DCD heart transplants.
“The ability to safely transplant a donor heart from DCD donors could be a paradigm shift to potentially increase the pool of viable donor hearts to help more patients suffering from end-stage heart failure,” comments Waleed Hassanein, president and chief executive officer of TransMedics. “We are actively engaged in four large pivotal trials for hearts, lungs and livers in the USA to bring the revolutionary OCS technology to the US market hopefully starting in 2015,” Hassanein explains.
Since the advent of organ transplantation, the cornerstone of organ preservation has been cold ischaemic storage. Although this method is intended to reduce the extent of organ damage during transport, significant deterioration of the donated organ still occurs, and the longer the organ is kept on ice, the greater the damage. Moreover, the cold storage technique does not enable any resuscitative or assessment while the organ is being transported from donor to recipient. Given the limitations of cold storage, it is estimated that globally 60-65% of donor hearts cannot ultimately be used for transplantation.
TransMedics has developed the world’s only portable medical device capable of overcoming the limitations of cold storage for organ transplantation. The OCS technology was designed to provide a comprehensive solution to all three key limitations of the cold storage technique, as it:
– Minimises cold ischaemia injury by perfusing the heart with warm oxygenated blood;
– Optimises the condition of the organ by replenishing oxygen, nutrients, and hormones that would otherwise become depleted;
– Provides continuous monitoring and assessment of the organ until the point of transplantation.
These unique capabilities of the OCS technology have the potential to:
– Increase utilisation of current donor organs
– Improve patient survival
– Reduce post-transplant complications
– Improve cost-effectiveness of the transplant procedure.