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UCLA Performs Rare 'Beating Heart' Transplant

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Photo by Melissa Acedera via LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr

Photo by Melissa Acedera via LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
One of only a handful of patients in the US to take part in a new trial, Andrea Ybarra, a 40-year old Los Angeles woman, has received a "beating heart" transplant via a method that supplies the donated heart with warm oxygenated blood as it awaits transplantation.

The US-based trial is being led by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and doctors hope the procedure will extend the "shelf life" of transplant organs which can deteriorate due to lack of blood. The trial is comparing the "safety and efficacy" of the beating heart method against a traditional "cooler box" system.

The Organ Care System (OCS), "keeps the heart in a 'near physiologic beating state' while it is outside the body. It perfuses the heart with warm oxygenated blood supplemented with nutrients and electrolytes," reports Medical News Today.

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Ybarra, who received her transplant in August, reports improved health to the Associated Press saying she can now walk around the block when "before she could hardly take a few steps."

About 100 patients worldwide have received a new heart via OCS, most in Europe. According to Medical News Today an estimated 3,000 Americans are on the heart transplant waiting list and, "last year, 359, that is nearly one every day, died waiting for a new heart."