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Date Updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Westchester Medical Center First in New York to Deploy “Heart-in-a-Box” Technology That Can Increase Number of Hearts Available for Transplantation

news item

VALHALLA, NY (May 25, 2021) – Westchester Medical Center is the first hospital* in New York State to transplant a heart with the assistance of a portable medical technology that keeps the donor heart pumping blood after its procurement.  Currently, nearly 10,000 New York State residents are in need of an organ transplant and each year, more than 500 state residents die** while waiting on an organ transplant waiting list, due to a lack of donated organs.  

Typically, cardiac transplant surgeons secure still-beating hearts from donors who have an irreversible loss of brain function. Donation-after-circulatory-death (DCD) is also possible, however the clinical complexity of procuring a heart and keeping it viable for transplant after circulatory death have limited the practice and as a result, lessened the number of hearts available for transplantation.  

The medical technology now in use at Westchester Medical Center– the TransMedics® Organ Care SystemTM – keeps the heart beating and perfused with warm blood throughout transport.  Circulating blood through the heart makes the organ less likely to sustain damage during procurement. This also permits the transportation of donor hearts over longer distances, thus increasing the number of available donor hearts.


Referred to by its manufacturer as “heart in a box,” the device has the potential to increase the number of hearts donated after circulatory death, a development  that would improve overall donation rates*** and increase the number of transplantable organs****.


“Right now there are men and women awaiting a heart for transplant at Westchester Medical Center because they are too ill to wait at home,” said Masashi Kai, MD, Surgical Director of Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support and the physician who leads the donation-after-cardiac death transplant initiative. “These are wives, husbands, mothers and fathers whose futures depend on the availability of a new heart.”


Heart Failure Solutions

The cardiothoracic surgeons and heart failure cardiologists at Westchester Medical Center have decades of experience in heart transplant surgery and the surgical management of heart failure. The program consistently ranks in the top fifteen percent of heart transplant programs in the world, in terms of volume. 


Patients on a heart transplant waiting list at another hospital may be considered for DCD transplant at Westchester Medical Center, under certain criteria. Those seeking to learn more about DCD transplant qualifications, to schedule an appointment with a heart failure specialist or to refer a patient should call 914.493.7632. 


About Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network
Westchester Medical Center is the premier provider of advanced medical care in New York’s Hudson Valley region. The flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, this 415-bed academic hospital located in Valhalla, New York, provides local residents with acute care services – Level I trauma and burn care, organ transplants, Comprehensive Stroke Center and more - found nowhere else in the region.  Westchester Medical Center is the primary referral facility for other hospitals in the Hudson Valley and serves as a lifeline for more than 2.4 million people. To learn more about Westchester Medical Center and the vital services it provides to residents of the Hudson Valley and beyond, visit WestchesterMedicalCenter.org or follow Westchester Medical Center at Facebook.com/WestchesterMedicalCenter  Twitter.com/WestchesterMed.



About Westchester Medical Center Health Network
The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) is a 1,700-bed healthcare system headquartered in Valhalla, New York, with 10 hospitals on eight campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 13,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. From Level 1, Level 2 and Pediatric Trauma Centers, the region’s only acute care children’s hospital, an academic medical center, Primary and Comprehensive Stroke Centers, several community hospitals, dozens of specialized institutes and centers, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities, homecare services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State, today WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated healthcare in the Hudson Valley. For more information about WMCHealth, visit WMCHealth.org.

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Dr. Kai and other heart failure specialists are available to discuss this and other heart surgery topics. Press seeking interviews and other information can contact us at any time.


All trademarks herein are property of their respective owners.
*According to TransMedics 

**New York State Donate Life Registry: General Information on Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

***American Journal of Transplantation: Potential for donation after circulatory death heart transplantation in the United States: Retrospective analysis of a limited UNOS dataset

****According to the American Medical Association