New technology could make more human organs available for transplant

Doctors have used modern technology to successfully perform an organ transplant, a first in Canada that could lead to more human organs available for transplant.

The surgery was performed by researchers at Canada's Lawson Health Research Institute and reported on the Eureka Alert website (Ulrich Alert) on June 27 this year.

Modern technology could lead to more human organs available for transplantation (Shutterstock)

new technology

The Lawson Health Research Institute team is the first in Canada to perform organ transplants using a technique called Abdominal Normothermic Regional Perfusion (A-NRP), which uses a special pump to restore blood flow to the selected organ, potentially creating more organs for transplant. In April 2024, London Health Sciences Centre used this technology to improve organs from two donors, successfully transplanting two kidneys and two livers into four patients.

“Organ donation after circulatory death (when the heart stops beating) has historically been less reliable than organ donation after brain death,” explained Dr. Anton Scarrow, associate scientist at Lawson Hospital and director of liver transplant surgery at London Health Sciences Centre. “After circulatory death, there is a greater risk of organ damage due to the cessation of oxygen and blood flow.”

Dr. Scarrow and his team at London Health Sciences Centre are the first in Canada to use standardized abdominal hypothermic regional perfusion, a technique that enables preservation of abdominal organs after donor circulatory death by using a special pump to selectively restore blood flow to the organs. Standardized regional abdominal hyperthermic perfusion can increase the likelihood of transplant success, ensure the donor's wishes are met and improve patient outcomes.

Organ transplantation

“Unfortunately, we do not have enough donated organs to match the number of patients waiting for transplants,” said Dr. Scarrow. “By preserving organ quality after circulatory death, standardized regional ventral perfusion could significantly help increase the number of available organs, thereby saving more lives,” he added.

The research team led by Dr. Scarrow is currently studying the use of standardized regional abdominal hyperthermic perfusion to ensure donor safety. The team plans to include 20 to 30 donors in the study.

Dr. Scarrow noted that standardized regional abdominal perfusion has great potential, and once this study is complete, Dr. Scarrow's team hopes to expand the use of this technology to other transplant centers across Canada.

“This work would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of a multidisciplinary team with expertise in neurocritical care, perfusion, critical care, ethics, donation and transplantation,” said Dr. Scarrow. “It also includes the generosity of many partners and the community and stakeholders.”

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