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    Revolutionizing Polish Transplantology with the ‘Heart in a Box’

    In a landmark achievement for Polish medical science, the Cardiac Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, and Transplantology Clinic of the University Clinical Center of the Warsaw Medical University (WUM), led by Professor Mariusz Kuśmierczyk, marked a historic milestone on March 4, 2024. For the first time in Polish transplantology history, the OCS Heart system (Organ Care System) was utilized to transport a donor heart to its recipient, revolutionizing the field of heart transplantation in the country.

    The OCS Heart apparatus ensures the heart is transported under optimal conditions – beating, nourished, and shielded from adverse external factors. This innovative technology extends the viability of the organ from the standard 4 hours to an impressive 12 hours, significantly expanding the window for successful transplantation.

    “This is a game-changer for many individuals in our country, offering them a chance at life,” emphasizes Professor Zbigniew Gaciong, the rector of Warsaw Medical University. “As an institution, we take immense pride in the evolution of our organ transplant program, which has its roots in Warsaw and continues to advance, now encompassing heart, lung, and pediatric transplants.”

    The pioneering transplantation procedure conducted on March 4, 2024, saw the successful implantation of a heart into Mr. Jerzy, who had been critically ill for over seven weeks at the Central Clinical Hospital of the UCK WUM. Under the vigilant supervision of Professor Mariusz Kuśmierczyk and his team of experts, the donor heart was maintained within the OCS Heart apparatus for approximately seven hours before being seamlessly transplanted into the recipient.

    Reflecting on the success of the procedure, cardiothoracic surgeon and clinical transplantologist Dr. Zygmunt Kaliciński heralds a new era for Polish heart transplantation. “We’ve transcended the ‘ice age’ of transplantology,” he states. “With the utilization of this innovative technology, we’ve embarked on a new frontier, providing hope to patients who were previously deemed ineligible for transplantation.”

    The impact of the OCS Heart system on Polish transplantology cannot be overstated. Not only does it enable the transplantation of hearts from donors previously considered suboptimal, such as older donors or those with borderline cardiac function, but it also enhances the overall quality of transplant services. By reducing wait times for patients with end-stage heart failure and minimizing the occurrence of complications, this technology signifies a monumental shift in the landscape of cardiac care in Poland.

    The journey to acquire this groundbreaking equipment was not without its challenges. Facing formidable costs, Professors Mariusz Kuśmierczyk and Zygmunt Kaliciński spearheaded a fundraising campaign, “12 Hours for Life,” under the auspices of the “Leave a Heart on Earth” Transplant Foundation. Despite obstacles like the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, the collective efforts of medical professionals, artists, and donors culminated in the acquisition of the OCS Heart system.

    Thanks to these concerted efforts, on March 4, 2024, a “heart in a box” was successfully transplanted in Poland for the first time, marking a triumph of innovation, perseverance, and compassionate healthcare. As Mr. Jerzy, the recipient of this groundbreaking procedure, attests, the gift of a new heart is truly the gift of a new life, one that he intends to cherish and make the most of every single day.

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