Monday, 7 September 2015

TV, Medical & Science: Heart, Skin, Lungs, Sklungs? House M.D. Prophecy Of A Fluidless Organ Preservation Box!!!

Lung in a box, in House M.D. Season 8 Episode 2 Transplant
Image from Fox
You all know how much I love House M.D., hence my PhD research subject. That said, I used to always visit and revisit Polite Dissent after every episode to get some professional medical knowledge, so that I do not get carried away by the awesomeness of the show. One episode which I remember particularly well, Season 8 Episode 2 Transplant, carried a fatal "design flaw" in their production, and that was the printine plexiglass organ preservation box shown in the above photo.

Polite Dissent has the following comments which I highlighted in the screen capture below:

Screencap of Polite Dissent
Image from Polite Dissent
I agreed with Polite Dissent. How can an organ survive without blood and fluid around the organ to keep it from drying up? Until today, I realised I was wrong when I saw the image below,

Heart beating in the organ preservation box.
Image from IFL Science
Here's direct quotation of parts of the IFL Science article:

"In the short term they’ll open the field," commented Korkut Uygun, a transplant surgeon from Massachusetts General Hospital, to the Technology Review. Uygun thinks that one day we'll have the technology to restore other organs, such as livers, up to an hour after they have undergone circulatory death, not minutes. And so far, there are 15 cases of the "heart in a box" successfully reanimating a heart from a donor after they've died.

The system could increase the number of hearts that are transported, overcoming issues such as the time limit heart porters have when transporting a chilled heart. Typically, an organ is cooled to about 4°C (39°F) to slow down the tissue's metabolic rate and the rate of degenerative processes. Lungs, for example, only last three to six hours on ice – whereas the Transmedics device preserves lungs for 24 hours without needing to cool the organ down.

There is no blood flow around a cooled organ so it is susceptible to damage, and there is no way to test its function. This is especially critical for a patient about to undergo the invasive surgery to receive it, and the months of adapting to the new organ afterwards. 

So yeah, that House M.D. prophecy has come true, again!!! After that black president of the United States one, which I will share in the near future.


Resources:
House — Episode 2 (Season 8): “Transplant” @Polite Dissent
http://www.politedissent.com/archives/8064

New Device Could Revive Dead Hearts +I fucking love science
http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/heart-box-revives-dead-hearts