The unmet need in transplantation
Liver transplantation is the accepted treatment for end-stage-liver failure and is the last option for the patient.
One of the biggest challenges in the transplantation field is the availability of organs, as the number of people that need a transplant far outweighs the number of organs available.
There is therefore a big need for increasing the number of organs that are suitable for transplantation as many patients will die while waiting for an organ to become available.
Currently, organs are stored on ice before being transplanted; however, this can lead to damage of the organ before it is transplanted, making it unusable and further reducing the number of available organs.
The new technology providing a solution
A hospital has become the first in the UK to start using a perfusion machine routinely before liver transplantation.
The perfusion machine maintains the liver in a physiological state, keeping it warm and pumping it with blood, nutrients and, if required, medicine.
This can allow the liver to recover from any damage it may have sustained when being removed from the donor.
A study published in Nature showed that there was 50% lower level of injury in livers that had been kept warm compared with those stored on ice.
Reducing damage will greatly increase the number of organs suitable for transplantation.
Another reason for the lack of available organs is that not everyone who donates their organs will have optimal organs for transplant.
This new perfusion machine means that livers can be tested for function before they are transplanted into a patient so that transplants can be carried out with confidence.
This should further increase the availability of organs for transplant as livers that would have been deemed unsuitable due to uncertainty can now be tested to see if they can be used.
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