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Fighting for the Human Heart

Fri Nov 9, 2018
In a given year, around 60,000 Americans experience advanced heart failure, and many of them need a heart transplant to survive. While 10,000 hearts are donated each year, nearly 7,000 of them are not used. About half are not healthy enough, and though the other half are fully functional, those hearts can’t get to the recipient within the four-hour window recommended for effective transplants.But thanks to a partnership between Notre Dame engineering professor Pinar Zorlutuna and the University of Florida, there may be a way to extend that window to eight hours, which would allow many more donated hearts to reach patients. Professor Zorlutuna has created a novel and ethical way of converting adult blood and skin cells to functioning, beating heart muscle. These heart cells are being used to test an improved preservative solution that lengthens a donated heart’s lifespan. This safe and inexpensive platform has allowed for treatments to be tested without using very precious donated hearts, and initial studies show promise for these solutions.Learn more: Learn more about Professor Zorlatuna: