Renowned medical scientist, Professor John Fraser has been busy during the global pandemic – with an Australian team of researchers devising a ground-breaking method to improve survival rates among heart disease patients, The Catholic Leader reports.
Professor Fraser’s team at the Critical Care Research Group, that he founded, has devised a way to prolong the hearts of brain dead patients.
Speaking at an Assembly of Catholic Professionals event in Brisbane, Prof Fraser said the new method had major implications across Australia, where it might take between three and four hours to get a donor heart from say, outback Mount Isa to Brisbane where a recipient is waiting.
“Each second, cells are becoming less and less functional,” Prof Fraser said, describing the life-or-death time factor that currently restricts heart transplant surgery.
Under current practices the donor heart is put on ice – literally in an Esky – sterilised and then transported as fast as possible to the hospital where the transplant is to take place.
“So we started thinking if we could take the heart … make it last longer,” Prof Fraser said.
His research team has spent the last four-and-half years in the lab – an estimated 52,000 working hours – creating a model that could be compared to a heart “on ice”.
Researchers found that a heart protected in a medical “Gatorade” got the heart to work much better and protected the cells.
“We have now done seven transplants – one was done last night,” Prof Fraser said.
Without the protection of the medical “Gatorade” he said “these hearts would not have been usable – these are recipients who would not have received a heart.”
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A breakthrough in protecting transplant hearts is set to save lives (Catholic Leader)