The Duke University Medical Center successfully used a technique known as warm perfusion to revive a dead heart.
They then used a pioneering technique to run blood back into the disembodied heart, so it would beat once more, a process documented in a surreal video tweeted by one of the doctors involved in the historic operation.
In this case, the recipient was a military veteran who received the donated organ through the Mission act.
Surgeons at Duke University harvested the heart from a dead donor whose blood had already stopped pumping through their body. The hospital has gained fame as a reliable heart transplantation center in the U.S.
Once reestablished, the organ was immediately transplanted to a patient in need of a healthy heart, which would have been a success. "The longer the heart is not beating, it becomes ischemic, which means it's starved of oxygen, which can affect the way the heart works [after transplantation]", Jeffrey Teuteberg, MD, a cardiologist with Stanford Health Care, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
The diagram carried out by Duke University surgeons is is named a "donation-after-loss of life" (DCD) transplant and involves taking away the coronary heart of a affected person confirmed as unnecessary. Aside from death, a donor's family history is also considered.
Simply asking more Americans to register as organ donors isn't enough.
Duke University Hospital, along with four other USA centers, is participating in a clinical trial of DCD heart transplants using a device that circulates warm, oxygenated blood through the organs, according to the university release.
"This procedure has the potential to expand the donor pool by up to 30 percent", Jacob Schroder, M.D., the doctor at Duke who performed the procedure, explains.
Traditionally, heart donations have depended on declaration of brain death. "We still have a donor shortage, so hopefully this is a way to increase the donor pool a little bit more". By the time the patient is officially declared dead, the heart is usually already too damaged to be transplanted to another patient.
For the time between hosts, the heart is typically kept cold to prevent decay, and remains viable for no more than six hours before it must be placed in a new body.
'That is the primary time within the United States, which is a big deal as a result of transplant want and quantity is so excessive, however just a few facilities all over the world, together with Papworth, have pioneered this effort, ' he advised DailyMail.com in an electronic mail.