Heart-in-a-box: transporting a live, beating heart to transplant patients

Heart-in-a-box: transporting a live, beating heart to transplant patients

Summary: It's one of the most unreal things you're ever going to see, outside of a horror movie, and yet, it's surprisingly not gross.

TOPICS: Health

Okay, this one is going to take some getting used to. About halfway through the video you're about to watch, you'll see a technician -- standing in a garage -- open what looks like a kitchen food contain. Inside the container is a heart... and it's beating!

It's one of the most unreal things you're ever going to see, outside of a horror movie. But in this case, it's real, and it may save lives. Removed hearts destined for transplants have a time-to-live and they often can't make it from donor to recipient. This new technology from UCLA may vastly extend that technology -- and give horror film makers entirely new plots for their movies.

Go ahead and watch the video. It's surprisingly not gross.

Go ahead and post your comments below. I'm not going to encourage you to compare this to your favorite horror movies, but if you feel inspired, you're welcome to share.

Topic: Health


Denise Amrich is a Registered Nurse, the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.

Nothing in this article is meant to be a substitute for medical advice, and shouldn't be considered as such. If you are in need of medical help, please see your doctor.

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  • Honestly, I love your articles

    You continue to bring up genuinely awesome bits of technology that will help the world. Much better than the bickering I usually see around ZDNet.
    • Heart transplants

      Science must be monitored and regulated to preserve a humane society. Yet, the hands of scientists are often tied by religious objections that have nothing to do with preserving such a society. Sometimes, the objections themselves prove to be inhumane. Stem cell research comes to mind.

      This video brought visions of saving many more lives with heart transplants. If this technique proves viable, it may eventually be refined to actually allow heart banks. Wouldn't that be a wonderful boon to critical patients of heart disease?
  • Don't think horror movies...

    ... think "crime drama -- kidnapping".

    You've got a greatly extended "time to live" for the organ. You've got the world leader (or better yet, cute-and-plucky teenaged daughter of said world leader) on the operating table, being cut open so that as soon as the heart arrives they can do the transplant, and you've got the bad guys who kidnap the beating heart, knowing they've got time to really hide the organ.

    (Where's my script-writing program, I've got to start getting this down...)
  • It is true drama

    the uncertainty on when the anesthetize the patient, the logistics, late hours at night... with the chest open, you have only 2 hours to get the heart out and in, any delay and all the effort is futile. If this preservation technique works, it will give as many hours as other transplants... It is real life drama, I am not a writer but as anything else, unless you have been there, is just an opinion, greetings geeks!