'Heart in a box' machine revolutionary for transplants

First on 7: A machine which can house a beating human heart has revolutionised heart transplants at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital.

The device is expected to increase the rate of heart and lung transplants by 50 per cent, providing a miraculous gift for patients given a second chance at life.

The technology allows a much broader range of donor hearts to be retrieved.

"It means everything, if I didn't have that machine I wouldn't be here,” heart transplant patient Coral said.

"It's like a little intensive care and incubator, if you will, for the heart to be assessed and monitored and worked on and resuscitated,” Heart Surgeon Kumud Dhital said.

Both women were candidates for artificial heart pumps costing three hundred thousand dollars each.

The ‘heart in a box’ seems a bargain at a tenth of the price of artificial heart pumps costing $300,000 each per transplant.

"We know that not only is this going to expand the potential number of potential heart transplants that we can do, but we think it will also make it safer,” Cardiologist Professor Peter MacDonald said.

The ‘Heart in a Box’ can keep the organ pumping for up to eight hours, which more than doubles the time a heart can be kept safely than in the old technology of sitting on ice in an esky-like container.

Donations have funded the machine thus far.

St Vincents needs to raise $15 million to keep the new technology.

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