In a world first, a damaged human liver was treated and preserved in a machine for three days before being successfully transplanted into a patient, researchers say.
The man quickly regained his quality of life with no evidence of liver damage or rejection and remains healthy one year after surgery.
Researchers say the development could save lives because the technology could increase the number of livers available for transplant and allow surgeries to be scheduled days in advance.
A cancer patient on the Swiss transplant waiting list had the choice of using a treated human liver.
After his consent, the organ was transplanted in May 2021 and the patient was able to leave the hospital a few days later.
He said: “I am very grateful for the life-saving organ.
“Due to my rapidly progressing tumor, I had little chance of getting a wait-listed liver in a reasonable amount of time.”
There is a growing gap between the demand for liver transplants and the scarcity of organs available.
However, since clinical practice is not to keep donor livers on ice for more than about 12 hours prior to transplantation, the number of organs that can be matched to transplant recipients is limited.
Pierre-Alain Clavien, director of the Department of Visceral Surgery and Transplantation at the University Hospital Zurich, and colleagues demonstrated the preservation of a human liver outside the body for three days using a machine that performs a technique known as normothermic ex situ perfusion.
The organ is supplied with a blood substitute at normal body temperature outside the body.
The machine mimics the human body as closely as possible to create ideal conditions for the human liver.
According to the study, the team prepared the liver in the machine with various drugs to make it suitable for transplantation, even though it was not originally approved for the procedure.
The liver was transplanted to the patient, who had several serious liver diseases, including end-stage liver disease and liver cancer.
The Liver4Life team found that the transplanted organ functioned normally with minimal injury as blood flow returned from the internal blood vessels.
Basic immunosuppressants were only given for the first six weeks after the operation.
By connecting the liver to the machine, antibiotic or hormonal therapies, among other things, can be treated and lengthy laboratory or tissue tests can be carried out without time pressure.
Normally this is not possible because organs can only be stored for 12 hours if they are stored conventionally on ice and in commercially available perfusion devices.
Prof Clavien said: “Our therapy shows that by treating livers in the perfusion machine it is possible to alleviate the lack of functioning human organs and save lives.”
Mark Tibbitt, Professor of Macromolecular Engineering at ETH Zurich, added: “The interdisciplinary approach to solving complex biomedical challenges embodied in this project is the future of medicine.
“In this way, we can use new findings even faster to treat patients.”
The results are published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/31/human-liver-kept-for-three-days-successfully-transplanted-into-patient-16742264/ Human liver stored for three days was successfully transplanted into the patient