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Health Highlights: Oct. 24, 2014

Surgeons Transplant First Non-Beating Heart

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Surgeons Transplant First Non-Beating Heart

Surgeons in Australia say they successfully transplanted a heart that had stopped beating for up to 20 minutes.

Until now, heart transplants have only been able to use still-beating hearts from brain-dead donors. But a surgical team at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney took a non-beating donor heart and revived it in a machine called a "heart-in-a-box," BBC News reported.

In this device, the heart is kept warm and bathed in a nutrient-rich fluid that helps minimize any damage to the cardiac muscle.

Michelle Gribilas, 57, suffered from congenital heart failure and was the first person to receive such a heart. She told the BBC, "Now I'm a different person altogether. I feel like I'm 40 years old -- I'm very lucky."

Two more successful non-beating heart transplants have followed her case, the hospital said.

Experts believe the "heart-in-a-box" technique, also known as machine perfusion, might lead to a 30 percent increase in the availability of a variety of organs for transplant.

"This breakthrough represents a major inroad to reducing the shortage of donor organs," Peter MacDonald, head of the heart transplant unit at St. Vincent's, told the BBC.

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