This fall, LifeCenter Northwest proudly hosted a surgeon education workshop along with our tissue processing partner, CryoLife. The seminar included 12 cardiac surgeons from around the nation.

CryoLife is “a global provider of life restoring technologies” that works to restore both the health and quality of life of patients through a wide range of innovative medical devices. They provide preserved human tissues for cardiac and vascular surgeries, and mechanical heart valves for aortic or mitral valve replacement. CryoLife has greatly enhanced the lives of thousands of patients by preserving cardiovascular tissues for transplantation. In addition, they are also world leaders in durability testing of allograft heart valves.*

For patients in need of a heart valve replacement, an allograft it is the most ideal option. An allograft is a type of tissue graft that is provided by a generous donor as a gift to help save lives and improve the quality of life for patients by repairing limbs and relieving pain.**  They also provide patients with the benefit of not having to be on blood thinners, the ability to go for a longer duration without surgeries, and lowers the risk of recurring infection.

Aortic Root Surgery Training and Wet Lab

CryoLife allograft training at LifeCenter Northwest

CryoLife partners with cardiac surgeons from across the nation to provide an opportunity to learn and practice new techniques in a comfortable and safe space. The aortic root surgery training and wet lab hosted at LifeCenter Northwest included instructive and hands-on training in aortic root surgery that began with pig hearts for practice. The workshop served as a foundation for the surgeons to learn more about the preparation of grafts without causing damage and preparing the allograft for transplantation.

The surgeons spent two hours learning the anatomy of the allograft and engaging in the repetitive process of preparing the graft in order to trim their preparation time to roughly 10 minutes. The whole process is basically exponentially teaching surgeons where the valve goes and how to sew the valve. The intended outcome of the lab and training is to effectively prepare the surgeons to perform surgeries in a timely and meticulous manner, while also providing a sufficient amount of time to practice and apply the skills they have learned, and share the new techniques and positive outcomes with fellow surgeons.

Impact of Surgeon Education Workshops

These workshops provide positive outcomes for both surgeons and patients who rely on valve replacement to survive or to enhance their lives.

“[The surgeons] are learning this technique and skill to take to their patients,” said Catherine Hankins, Director of Tissue Donation Services at LifeCenter Northwest. “Some of the young surgeons have 30+ year careers out there ahead of them and they’re learning these techniques to help countless numbers of patients in the future. This one valve that went for education because it couldn’t be transplanted is going to help hundreds of people, not just one.”

Impact of Tissue Donation

CryoLife allograft training at LifeCenter Northwest

Tissue donation not only saves lives, but also heal and enhance the quality of life for many individuals. Often, donated tissue provides the best opportunity for patients to be able to heal like in the case of burn victims or infants with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

These donations give people their lives back and allow them to live free of pain. Generous tissue donors restore sight and prevent amputation, which allows their recipients to have their lives restored.

According to Donate Life America, each year approximately 39,000 tissue donors provide lifesaving and healing tissue for transplant, and roughly 1.75 million tissue transplants are performed.

A single tissue donor is capable of enhancing and/or saving the lives of 50 or more individuals with their range of tissue donations.

*Information from CryoLife.

**Information from Intermountain Healthcare.