Docs keep donor liver "alive" in new medical device | On Call

March 18, 2013 by Arezu Sarvestani

U.K. researchers demonstrate for the 1st time a medical device that can keep the liver functioning while on its way from an organ donor to a recipient.

MassDevice On Call

MASSDEVICE ON CALL — U.K. researchers performed a world 1st this month, keeping a donor liver "alive" and functioning inside novel medical device.

The device may soon replace the "on ice" method of preserving liver tissue as it moves from the donor to the recipient, at least according to the engineers and clinicians who were part of the landmark procedure.

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"This device is the very 1st completely automated liver perfusion device of its kind," device co-inventor Constantin Coussios told Reuters. "These 1st clinical cases confirm that we can support human livers outside the body, keep them alive and functioning on our machine and then, hours later, successfully transplant them into a patient,"

The device was developed by Coussios, a professor of biomedical engineering at Oxford University, and Peter Friend, director of the Oxford Transplant Centre.

"It was astounding to see an initially cold, grey liver flushing with color once hooked up to our machine and performing as it would within the body," device co-inventor Constantin Coussios told Reuters. "What was even more amazing was to see the same liver transplanted into a patient who is now walking around."