WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | News

Doctors testing warm, beating hearts in transplant

LOS ANGELES (AP) - In the future, most heart transplant recipients could be getting a heart that's already beating before it's placed in the body.

The University of California, Los Angeles is heading an experiment that compares the safety and effectiveness of the "beating heart" transplant to the standard method of stopping the heart and placing it in a cooler to get it to the recipient.

Enrolled in the beating heart pilot study in the U.S. will be 128 patients randomly chosen nationwide.

Instead of stopping the heart and putting it on ice in a $35 cooler, the new technology calls for placing the organ in a special $200,000 box that feeds it blood and keeps it warm and ticking outside the body.

The first such transplant was done in Germany in 2006. A 40-year-old woman with lupus received a beating heart in Los Angeles in August.

If the study is successful, doctors say the donor heart could stay out of the body longer than the roughly 6 hours in a cooler, and the organ recipient who is selected wouldn't have to be the one living closest to the donor heart.

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