Racing Heart

All went well! After a trip to the airport in a fire car, we were escorted onto the runway by airport security where a private jet awaited us. With a handshake from the pilot, out gear was loaded on. A large suitcase with all surgical instruments required and two chilly bins with special liquids in were taken. I placed my temperature monitors in the box to see what the actual temperature was for the heart during transport.The plane was given top priority for take off and soon after we were cruising at 800 km/h at 35,000 feet. 45 mins later we landed in a terrible storm. A car waited for us which took us directly to the national hospital where the donor was already opened and two surgical teams were already in place, one for the liver, one for the kidneys. The chest was already open but the heart sack still in place. Our surgeon quickly got to work to remove the heart which was stopped using a special solution. Once the clamp was placed on the aorta the clocked started, 6.30 am. I had been awake since 1 at this stage. The heart was placed in three sterile bags before being placed into the chilly bin (or cooler). We quickly changed out of our scrubs and rushed to the waiting ambulances which rushed us to the airport. Half way, however, our ambulance died, the engine overheated and we had to pull off at a petrol station and wait for a replacement. Soon enough we were back on the road and the plane was already loaded and engines on when we arrived. Doors closed and we were off into the clouds. Sandwiches and drinks were on pilot as we cruised, flying directly over my work as we went. The plane came to a stop where the fire car and airport security were waiting. Outside the police waited to escort us at full speed with lights and sirens to the hospital, we arrived and rushed the heart up to the Thorax department on the 7th floor. Scrubbed up and went in where another surgical team had prepared the patient for the heart, his chest was opened but his heart had not yet been removed. A vein had already been operated out of his right leg to be used for a bypass which was required because of a problem with the donated heart. Once we were in place, his heart was stopped and he was transferred onto a mechanical heart lung machine. His heart was clipped out and the task of sewing in the new heart began, at 10.28 am, the clamped was removed and blood again flowed into the coronary arteries. 2 hours later the final connection was made and the bypass was in place, he was weened off the heart lung machine and his new, now beating, heart was able to provide his body with the blood flow it needed. An exciting day for me, and hopefully even more for the recipient, it was quite an amazing experience to see the entire process, mind boggling really. I learned a huge amount for my project and got the input I was looking for. Now I will analyse the temperature data recorded along the way.