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The heart of the matter

Moving vital bioprosthetics across the world

Our team in Sydney recently welcomed the Conti Stockholm , a vessel that was carrying a very special and precious type of cargo. She was carrying 200 bioprosthetic heart valves destined to save the lives of 200 Australians.

The valves were developed by Edwards Lifesciences, a US-based medical technology company. The company is very well known in niche circles, having developed a reputation in the 60 years it has been operational. This shipment, however, was a first even for them as it was the first time they were ever able to transport their delicate valves over the ocean.

Bioprosthetic heart valves are artificial heart valves used to replace the ones we are born with when they are no longer able to function properly. Usually, they are used to replace valves in the aorta, arguably the most important blood vessel within the human body.

Because they are made of organic material, they need to be handled very delicately and stored in a temperature-controlled environment. This has historically made them extremely difficult to transport on ships, with both journey durations and storage being massive hurdles.

But thanks to a new multi-year global project, Edwards Lifesciences was able to work with us at DP World, to ensure the safe transportation of their heart valves as sea freight across the Pacific, and the implications of this are huge from a cost perspective. Until now, the only viable option to transport such medical devices was air freight, which is considerably more expensive. This will incentivise companies like Edwards Lifesciences to seriously consider expanding ability to deliver their life saving technologies on a much larger scale and saying that this is a positive outcome would be an understatement.

Over the past few years, we have been expanding our cool and cold storage capabilities across our global portfolio, as this is an area that has been quite underdeveloped in our industry – a problem that was only exacerbated in 2020 during the COVID pandemic. It is a matter of pride for us to say that our facilities and capabilities were critical to the delivery of vaccines and other medical supplies to countries and communities that would otherwise not have been able to handle such cargo.

Kudos to our team in Sydney for successfully pulling this off. They might have traded in their capes for safety vests, but they are heroes nonetheless!

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