A Transplant Made Possible by a Machine That Restored an Otherwise Damaged Liver

Organ transplants are difficult operations that must be performed as quickly as possible to preserve the quality of the graft. A machine developed by Swiss doctors can not only prolong the life of a transplant but also improve its quality.

Liver

Liver

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For the first time, a man has been transplanted with an organ treated with this innovative device. The Swiss company Liver4Life has developed a machine that can extend the life and quality of livers for transplantation. The researchers of the Zurich-based project have just taken an important step. After showing that a liver could survive in their machine, which mimics the human body, for several days in 2020, they have just presented the results of a liver transplant performed in May 2021 on a volunteer with liver cancer who was on the waiting list.

One year later, the patient is doing well and there are no signs of rejection. “I am grateful for this organ that saved my life. Due to my fast-growing tumor, I had little chance of getting a liver within a reasonable time frame,” says the patient. The details were published in Nature Biotechnology on May 31, 2022. The organ he was transplanted with was considered too damaged to be used as a transplant and was rejected by all hospitals.

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The Liver4Life machine strives to mimic the human body and the conditions necessary for liver survival as closely as possible as if the liver was still in a human body. A perfusion system supplies the transplant with hormones and nutrients, and a pump that acts like a heart provides oxygen. Dialysis replaces the kidneys. Finally, the machine moves the graft, just as the diaphragm does naturally during breathing.

After a few days on the machine, the damaged liver was restored and could be transplanted. “Our treatment shows that by treating the liver in the perfusion machine, it is possible to remedy the lack of functional human organs and save lives.”

If this first transplant is a success, more transplants in hospitals are needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of this method. If this becomes a reality, liver transplants, which are often an emergency procedure since grafts only survive for 12 hours outside the body before deteriorating, could be planned in advance. At the same time, the project’s promoters are working to create a new generation of machines.

Read Also: Transplantation: Damaged Lungs Restored With Live Pig’s Blood

References

Transplantation of a human liver following 3 days of ex situ normothermic preservation

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