TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Tampa General Hospital is the first in Florida to adopt and use a sophisticated organ transplant system that is designed to increase the number of donated hearts, livers and lungs that can be used to save the lives of patients.
The first lung transplant in Florida using this system was performed at Tampa General Hospital on October 22, 2019. The new Organ Care System (OCS™) technology allows a donated heart to keep beating for several hours outside a human body as it is transported to the hospital. This process, called normal temperature perfusion, keeps organs functioning almost as if they were still inside human bodies. During this process, hearts beat, livers produce bile and lungs breathe, all inside portable machines.
"We can maintain the organs for longer periods, which means we can retrieve them from a wider geographic area," said Dr. John Dunning, surgical director for Heart and Lung Transplantation at Tampa General Hospital and a professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. "And, the condition of the organs at the time of transplant is better," compared to traditional methods.
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Tampa General Hospital is the only hospital in Florida and among a handful in the United States to be using or formally studying the process for all three of these organs using the Organ Care System technology. TGH is one of the busiest transplant centers in the nation, having performed more than 10,000 transplant operations. The OCS machines are manufactured by TransMedics, Inc., of Massachusetts.
"At TGH, we use technology and innovation to meet the needs of our community," said Dr. Kiran Dhanireddy, executive director of the TGH Advanced Organ Disease and Transplantation Institute. "OCS allows us to expand the organ pool by having access to a wider geography of donors, which allows us to save more lives through transplantation."
The normal temperature perfusion process has already been approved by the FDA for use in lung transplant patients. TGH has conducted five liver perfusion transplants as part of a clinical trial.
"We are continually innovating to provide our patients with optimum care, and cutting-edge technology such as the OCS machine allows us to do that," said Dr. Amy Lu, a transplant surgeon who is the principal investigator on the TGH clinical trial.
At times, organs are transported to Tampa General from other cities. The traditional method is to use medical coolers for these journeys, which can sometimes take hours. The organs do not perform their normal functions while being transported in cold storage, but their health is preserved for several hours.