Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola Medicine has completed Illinois' first heart transplant using a newly developed cardiac transport system. The Paragonix SherpaPak® System aims to change the way hearts are transported during transplant, utilizing a canister that monitors temperature rather than packing the heart in ice.

Since the first successful heart transplant in the late 1960s, donor hearts have been preserved during transportation in a preservation solution in a cooler filled with ice. When longer trips are required to retrieve donor organs, this method runs the risk of freezing the donor heart. Studies have shown the unpredictable cooling caused by rapid temperature decrease may have detrimental effects on the integrity of the donor heart.

"We're very excited to be the first in Illinois to utilize this technology," said Edwin McGee Jr., MD, FACS, surgical director of heart transplantation and ventricular assist device program at Loyola Medicine. "Allocation of donor hearts changed in 2018 to prioritize sicker patients, often meaning longer procurement runs. The SherpaPak can mitigate some of the risk associated with longer ischemic times."

The Paragonix SherpaPak® is a lightweight shipper system for donor organs that provides a consistent, stable thermal environment for over 40 hours. According to Paragonix, the SherpaPak's initial data shows a 54% decrease in severe primary graft dysfunction and a 28% decrease in the length of stay in the ICU as compared to heart transplants using the traditional transportation method. (D’Alessandro et al., The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 2021, Volume 40, Issue 4, Supplement , S127, April 01, 2021)

Using the SherpaPak for transportation of the donor heart, there was no wait time for the heart to warm up. "The heart jumped right into action," said Dr. McGee. In recovery, the patient required less of the medicine needed to wake up the heart, and almost no medication to keep it moving.

Dr. McGee has consistently been at the forefront of new technology to help patients with cardiovascular diseases and conditions. He was the first surgeon in North America to implant two HeartWare® continuous flow ventricular assist devices in one patient – one device in each ventricle. Dr. McGee said, "We're always looking to make heart transplants safer and better. To be a part of the first transplant in Illinois using this technology is incredibly rewarding."

Images of the Paragonix SherpaPak® and footage of Dr. McGee are available via this Dropbox link. An additional animation of the device can be found on YouTube.

To learn more about Loyola Medicine or schedule an appointment with a cardiovascular specialist, visit




About Loyola Medicine

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a nationally ranked academic, quaternary care system based in Chicago's western suburbs. The three-hospital system includes Loyola University Medical Center, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and MacNeal Hospital, as well as convenient locations offering primary care, specialty care and immediate care services from more than 1,800 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. & Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its academic affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with the newly renovated Judd A. Weinberg Emergency Department, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research facility at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center. MacNeal is a 374-licensed-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced medical, surgical and psychiatric services, acute rehabilitation, an inpatient skilled nursing facility and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. Loyola Medical Group, a team of primary and specialty care physicians, offers care at over 15 Chicago-area locations. For more information, visit You can also follow Loyola Medicine on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.


About Trinity Health

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 100 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities, and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.8 billion and assets of $30.5 billion, the organization returns $1.3 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity Health employs about 123,000 colleagues, including 6,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity Health is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services — ranked by number of visits — in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs. For more information, visit You can also follow Trinity Health on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.