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Donor livers preserved and improved with room-temperature perfusion system
Date:5/6/2014

A system developed by investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Engineering in Medicine (CEM) and the MGH Transplant Center has the potential to increase both the supply and the quality of donor organs for liver transplantation. In their report, which has been published online in the American Journal of Transplantation, the research team describes how use of a machine perfusion system delivering a supply of nutrients and oxygen though an organ's circulation at room temperature preserved and improved the metabolic function of donor livers in a laboratory study. The system has not yet been tested clinically.

"By the time a donated organ is transplanted, it has sustained significant injury through lack of a blood supply," says Bote Bruinsma, MSc, of the MGH-CEM and Department of Surgery, lead author of the report. "By supporting metabolic function, we can give the liver time to recover, preconditioning it before transplantation. The hope is that, in the near future, livers that currently are considered unsuitable for transplantation will be recovered by more advanced preservation techniques, significantly increasing the number of organs available for transplantation."

The continuing shortage of donor organs has already led to the limited use of organs from donors who do not meet the strict criteria for brain death but in whom death from cardiovascular failure is imminent and organs can be procured soon after death. The quality of organs from such donors is often less than that of organs procured after brain death because of the greater time elapsed between when circulation ceases and when the surgically removed organ is cooled for transportation. The authors note that increased use of such "marginal" organs requires improved methods of preservation beyond simple cold storage, which only slows the process of deterioration.

Several studies have shown that perfusing donor livers with a cold solution
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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