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Heart Transplant


Beating Heart Transplant

UCLA leads the way in making more hearts available to save lives. We are working to keep donor hearts healthier, for longer, and to transport donated hearts over greater distances.

We recently led a national, multi-center, phase 2 clinical study of the Organ Care System (OCS), also called "heart in a box" or "beating heart" transplant technology. Learn more about our research and trials.

Heart In A Box | Debbie Chesebro, Josh Kurz & Shane Winter from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Videographer Andrew W. Chan captures his father's experience as a heart transplant recipient using the Organ Transplant System, Heart-in-a-Box.

How "Heart in a Box" Works

"Heart in a box" or "beating heart" technology is an experimental heart transplant organ-preservation system.

The Organ Care System (OCS) lets the donor heart continue functioning outside the body while the heart is being transported. The OCS also keeps the heart healthy by protecting it in an environment that is very similar to conditions inside the body - warm and nourished by blood and oxygen.

The OCS works this way:

  • After a heart is removed from a donor's body, it is placed in a high-tech OCS container, or box.
  • The heart is revived immediately to a beating state. It is perfused (flooded) with oxygen and nutrient-rich blood, and maintained at an appropriate temperature.
  • Monitors on the device report how the heart is functioning during transport.
  • The heart remains warm and beating until transplant.

The OCS has several revolutionary possibilities for heart transplantation:

  • It extends the time for physicians to assess the suitability of a donor heart.
  • The "heart in a box" technology could improve tissue matching between donor hearts and recipients, because the box allows more time to test the heart for potential rejection factors.
  • The OCS box could potentially help expand the donor pool by allowing donor hearts to be safely transported across longer distances. (Current transport methods require donor hearts to be delivered within six hours.)

UCLA also has worked with the developer of the OCS, medical device company TransMedics, on "breathing lung" transplant technology.

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