Now there's a machine that can do what Poe imagined - preserve a beating heart in isolation. And while this might seem to be the yuckiest idea to come down the pike in a long time, it really represents a bold and fascinating advance in trying to save the lives of people with failing hearts.
The 'heart in a box' machine, known as the Organ Care System, is made by TransMedics Inc., of Andover, Mass. Doctors in Pittsburgh recently announced that they used the machine to keep hearts beating for hours on their own after being removed from cadavers. Three patients, a 47-year-old man and two women in their 50s, received these hearts and all seem to be doing very well.
The machine will be tested further in the coming year at five transplant centers in the U.S. - the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, the University of Chicago Hospitals' Cardiac Center and the Cleveland Clinic. The researchers want to be sure that hearts transplanted out of the box really work as well as those preserved by current methods.
Friday, May 25, 2007
blog.bioethics.net: Art Caplan on MSNBC: