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Mayo Clinic performs heart transplant using new technology for the 1st time in AZ

A Lake Havasu City man recently became the first patient in Arizona to receive a heart transplant using “heart-in-a-box” technology.

Mayo Clinic performed the surgery. Dr. Brian Hardaway, the patient's transplant cardiologist, told KJZZ News hearts typically can’t be transported long distances because they need to be transplanted within four hours of retrieval from the donor. But the new TransMedics organ care system extends that time period for several hours.

“There are more patients waiting for heart transplantations than there are donor organs to go around," Hardaway said. "So this a technology that we can use to expand the donor pool to go beyond our current geographic limitations.”

The device is a portable container which keeps the organ warm and supplies it with oxygen and nutrients during transport. 

Hardaway said the Arizona transplant recipient has been doing well since the surgery in mid-November.

"The transplant itself went above our expectations," Hardaway said. 

He said the technology will make it possible to perform hundreds more transplants nationwide each year.

"This is really going to open things up," Hardaway said. 

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.