While shooting the "TechKnow" segment on TransMedics' Organ Care System (OCS), contributor Phil Torres was able to get hands-on with a demonstration of how the machine works. Technicians hooked up a pig's heart to the OCS. It began beating almost immediately.
"They had these little electrodes attached to it, and I thought those were making the heart pulse," Torres says. "But all the heart needs is blood flowing through it, and it beats on its own."
That's what made the TransMedics' OCS so fascinating to see in action for Torres. Instead of putting organs on ice and racing against time as they slowly die, keeping an organ like the heart hooked up to a supply of warm blood literally allows the organ to stay alive. And, theoretically, if there's an infinite supply of warm blood, the heart could keep beating forever.
"It's the only organ in our bodies that doesn't nerve stimulation," Torres says. "It was warm and, of course, slimy, but it was amazing."
Watch "TechKnow," Sundays at 7:30PM ET/4:30PM PT on Al Jazeera America.