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The Heart of Meaningful Measurements: How the Organ Care System Can Save Lives

By Astrid Haegens, PhD20 Jul 2021

In our research blog series, we have discussed a variety of topics so far. From technical explanations about how Admittance Pressure-Volume loop technology works, to chronically implantable cardiac output flow probes in large animal models to how our research customers deal with a pandemic.
Today I would like to share a recent news story from the Netherlands, (home to the Transonic Europe office), in order to spotlight one of our innovative collaborative companies. A joint effort of the UMC Utrecht, Erasmus MC and UMC Groningen recently resulted in the first DCD (circulatory death) heart donation procedure in the Netherlands using an organ perfusion system. The arrested heart of a deceased donor was placed outside the body in a machine where it started beating again upon being supplied with oxygen and blood. This device preserves the heart better than conventional storage on ice, allows longer time for transport and significantly increases the chances of a successful transplantation due to the organ being kept in a more natural state while awaiting transplant. In many countries, only beating hearts removed from donors who have documented brain death have been able to be used for transplant; use of these DCD hearts for transplant could increase the pool of hearts available for suffering patients. As a result of this incredible technology, in the Spring of 2021, a life of someone who was awaiting a new heart was saved.

TransMedics Organ Care SystemCredit for this ‘magic box’, otherwise known as the Organ Care System (OCS), go to Transmedics. The OCS Heart is a portable, warm perfusion and monitoring system designed to keep a donor heart in a human-like, metabolically active state. This revolutionary technology allows physicians and institutions to maximize the potential of donor hearts by monitoring vital parameters throughout the entire process and ensuring that transplant teams can preserve the heart in an optimal condition. The previously used cold- storage practice only allowed hearts to be transplanted within a few hours of storage while with the Transmedics device, many additional hours are gained for transport and less hearts will be lost to ischemic damage from cold storage. It is estimated that 7 out of 10 hearts intended for transplant are lost simply due to the limits of cold storage preservation! The OCS Heart will help end much unnecessary loss from this issue alone; adding deceased donor hearts to the available pool of transplants will undoubtedly save more lives.
In the development of their system, Transmedics recognized that measuring the blood flow accurately would be crucial to the quality of the heart’s performance and thus the success of the transplantations. This is how we at Transonic, became a proud part of this life saving machine.

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) tubing flow applications are sometimes less visible to the audience, but are certainly not less important or meaningful as the example above demonstrates. The Transonic InsideTM OEM team has a full range of flow boards available that work with all sizes of our tubing Flowsensors. Evaluation kits are available in the R&D phase of medical device development to test if it is beneficial to add flow parameters to the equipment in development and then custom sensors and boards are developed specifically to meet the needs of our clients in their devices.

OCS Heart is currently in use in multiple countries around the world, adding new survivors to the list of heart patients every day. In the Netherlands, the estimation was made that this system could add forty successful heart transplantations to the list of transplantations each year which would almost double today’s numbers! We at Transonic are proud to make a small contribution to it. That is what we call meaningful measurements, with a capital M.