61-year-old Rob Evans from Arizona is getting a new heart tonight in what will be a rare and extraordinary transplant at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Rob suffers from a condition called cardiomyopathy. His heart is failing. Having cardiomyopathy, I’ve been healthy enough to be able to do the things I needed to do to make a living, but not healthy enough to be me. Unlike traditional heart transplantation where the donor heart is stopped, put on ice, and transported in a cooler, Rob’s new donor heart will be one of the first in the country to span the miles in almost science fiction-like fashion, still warm, still beating, in a box. This technology takes the organ out of the donor, puts it on a platform where it continues to pump the donor blood into the heart, maintain it in a near physiologic state–in a warm, beating state–during the transport. This is a clinical trial. Assuming that this technology proves to be as good as the current preservation techniques, or possibly superior, this technology opens the door for a new way of preserving organs, improving patient outcomes, and transporting organs from one center to the other. To tell you the truth, it’s a “well, duh” thing for me, you know, that as long as we can–as long as the technologies available, what seems like, of course a warm heart would do better than having to restart a dormant, cold heart. The donor heart arrives at UCLA, beating steadily, and continually assessed. Rob’s diseased heart is removed, his circulation and oxygen supply taken over by a heart-lung machine. His new donor heart is now briefly put to sleep with special drugs, removed from the box, and sewn into place. Well, this new technology allows us to take the heart and put it on a machine that keeps it beating and keeps blood flowing through the coronary arteries instead of just taking the heart and packing it in ice. We’re hoping to be able to demonstrate that we can better preserve the heart, get better function, and be able to travel longer distances so that we can get more hearts to patients in this area. We waited three and a half years for a heart, so–and in that three and a half years you’re constantly, you know, “Are we?” We had another heart attack, we had pneumonia a couple times, you know. “Is he going to live to get the heart?” Anything to shorten that timeframe, it’s just fabulous. The new heart is working perfectly, and everything just turned out great. To date, all of the patients enrolled in this phase two study at UCLA have done well. Their progress will be rigorously reviewed. Rob and Gail will now be going home to Arizona and hope to resume the active life they love. Well, first I have to start at the top of my wife’s list of things that I have to do when I get back to Arizona, and if I ever make it to the bottom then, you know, I’ll be back on my horse and I’ll be back running my business and, you know, the respect and, frankly, love we have for the donor’s family will always be a part of our lives. It’s almost like, Woo-Hoo! We get a life again, you know.