Heart research has never been “cooler” – efforts to improve organ preservation procedures for better heart transplant outcomes

Dr Warren Pavey

Supercooled storage for extended preservation of hearts – A pilot study in a rodent model

Dr Warren Pavey from Fiona Stanley Hospital was awarded a Clinician Research Fellowship in 2018.

Clinician Research Fellowship

Fiona Stanley Hospital



Dr Warren Pavey is a Specialist Anaesthetist with the Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

He was awarded a Clinician Research Fellowship in 2018 to develop novel methods to better preserve and assess hearts to be transplanted.

Organ, and specifically heart shortages are a global problem and the number of patients awaiting transplant is increasing. There have been a number of strategies proposed to improve heart transplantation procedures reduce the waiting list. The ability to store hearts for longer than the current limit of six hours would improve organ sharing and improve successful matching with a suitable recipient. In addition, extended preservation of hearts for organ transplantation could result in fewer wasted organs due to lack of suitable local recipients, as well as reduced need for prospective recipients to remain within short travel times of transplant centres.

In this study, Dr Pavey successfully developed a sheep model that delivered gas into the arteries of the heart to preserve it after having stopped beating in the donor animal. He and his research team also demonstrated that a state-of-the art type of ultrasound known as shear wave elastography can demonstrate changes in stiffness to assess the health of hearts outside of the body. The research findings of this Fellowship fall within the preclinical realm in an animal model of intervention. Future research seeks to translate these findings to humans in efforts to advance clinical practice and improve patient outcomes.

Dr Pavey acknowledged the impact of the Clinician Research Fellowship in assisting the growth of his research and laboratory, develop collaborations with other disciplines, as well as support junior clinicians who have joined their research laboratory in Western Australia. Dr Pavey has been successful in receiving a grant from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists to continue this important work in optimising organ preservation for improved transplantation outcomes for patients. Dr Pavey is also in his second year of a PhD investigating novel gas perfusion of hearts as a preservation strategy, continuing the work of the Clinician Research Fellowship.