For the first time ever, Australian surgeons transplant "dead" hearts into patients

This procedure could save 30 percent more lives

By Sarah Gray

Published October 24, 2014 8:50PM (EDT)

 Heart (<a href=''>Gen Epic Solutions</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
Heart (Gen Epic Solutions via Shutterstock)

Australian surgeons transplanted "dead" hearts into patients for the first time ever.

The procedure, which was performed on three patients on Friday, uses hearts that have stopped beating for up to 20 minutes. Previously surgeons only performed heart transplants with only "still-beating" hearts from patients who are brain-dead, which limited number of heart transplants that could be done. Using a "dead" heart could potentially "save the lives of 30 percent more heart transplant patients," the Guardian reported.

Two of the patients who received the "dead" heart transplants have recovered; one is still in intensive care, the hospital reported.

The "dead" hearts are stored in what is known at the hospital as a "heart in a box." Prior to transplant, the heart is brought back life and injected with a "ground-breaking preservation solution" created by the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St. Vincent hospital. The heart is also hooked up to a sterile circuit and kept warm and beating.

The solution took 12 years to perfect, and according to Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute the solution "makes the heart more resilient to transplantation" and improves other aspects in the transplant process.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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