David Radford, a 63-year-old resident of Oxford, UK, and a liver cancer survivor, said his surgeon attributes his successful liver transplant to the new normothermic perfusion machine. As reported recently in the BBC News, Radford participated in a randomized study/trial that involved 222 liver transplants in seven European centers.
The Normothermic Perfusion Machine Study
The machine pumps oxygenated blood, medicine and nutrients (outside the body), into donor livers that are stored in the perfusion machine prior to transplantation.
The procedure to date has been to store the donor livers in ice prior to surgery. This can cause damage to some of the stored livers and they will become unusable.
The study showed an increase in the number of livers available for transplantation. A total of 220 transplants were analyzed. Results showed 50% less tissue damage to livers stored in the perfusion machine, demonstrating improved organ survival as well as the transplant patients’ survival.
When the perfusion machine storage was used, only 16 out of 137 livers were discarded. This was a strong increased compared to the cold method storage, which resulted in 32 out of 133 livers discarded. About 33% of donated livers that are donated aren’t able to be used for transplantation due to a variety of factors, and there is a pressing need for more usable livers. Around one in five patients waiting for a liver transplant die before finding one.
One of the authors of the study, Professor Friend, stated that the number of patients waiting for a transplant far outweighs the number of donor organs that are available.
These encouraging results of this storage method can translate into a reduction in the number of deaths in patients waiting for a transplant and a change in procedure for organ transplants.