Keeping Livers in Warm Storage Maintains Quality for Organ Transplantation

Keeping livers in warm storage maintains quality for organ transplantation, new research suggests. To preserve livers for transplant patients who seriously need them, surgeons should immerse them in a warm storage similar to body temperature instead of an ice baths.


British researchers said Wednesday that packing the donated livers in a warm storage improved its quality and viability for organ transplantation.

In a randomized clinical trial, for the first time, researchers tested the quality of organs for transplant when kept in warmer storage against cold storage. The method improves the quality of the tissues which could lead to lengthening the survival of organ recipients.

The perfusion machine called metra works by supplying the liver with anti-clotting drugs, assorted nutrients, and oxygenated blood, experts said. The research result suggests that the device can increase the supply of livers workable for transplant by 20%.

The clinical trial involved 220 patients who had a liver failure due to cirrhosis, hepatitis, cancer or other causes. The participants were randomly allocated a donor liver that was warmed up on the metra machine or preserved on ice.

Researchers found that the livers that were warmed up on the metra machine showed a 50% average decrease in enzyme’s levels that cause tissue injuries.

The rate of a serious and fatal complication of transplantation was 10% compared to 30% for organs stored on ice.The study which suggests keeping livers in warm storage improves quality for organ transplantation was published in Nature on April 18.

“You’ve got objective evidence about the functional quality of a liver,” explains transplant surgeon David Nasralla at the University of Oxford, who co-led the trial. “That resulted in a lot of surgeons feeling that it was safe to transplant an organ that otherwise they would have felt very uncomfortable about.”


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