'Heart in esky' replacement keeps donor hearts alive longer

The breakthrough technique centres on perfusion of the organ with a cold crystalloid solution using gravity-feed in a portable container about the size of a small fridge. 

The system would permit donor hearts to be carried for longer and over greater distances than the current ice-filled esky method. 

It would also allow the use of hearts from what are now considered marginal donors and hearts from cases of circulatory death, according to research team leader Professor Frank Rosenfeldt of the Alfred Hospital.

He estimates the device could result in a 30% increase in the availability of hearts for transplant. 

Currently, between a third and three-quarters of hearts offered for transplant cannot be used.

Donation after circulatory death (DCD) is not commonly practised for heart transplants because the DCD heart sustains warm ischaemic injury during death and conventional static cold storage adds significantly