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Machine Mimicking Human Body can Preserve Donor Livers for a Week

Jan 13, 2020 by Ameer Helles

Researchers in Zurich have developed a new machine that can keep human donated livers functioning outside the body for up to seven days. This 'breakthrough' could help people with serious liver conditions or cancer that are hoping for a liver transplant. Moreover, it can infuse life into damaged livers, meaning that doctors can use the machine to restore damaged livers and transplant them into patients after their repair, without putting their lives at risk.
Keeping the liver alive for a week
Photo credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki / Alamy/Alamy

Approximately 8,000 liver transplant surgeries are performed in the US annually, according to the American Liver Foundation. However, preserving livers outside the body for more extended periods is a big obstacle facing transplant surgeries. Previously scientists have been successful in keeping a liver intact for only 12 hours.

Another major problem for liver patients is the lack of organs. Currently, about 17,000 people worldwide are waiting for a liver transplant. About 60% receive a liver within six months, while others must wait two or more years, and some people die before a viable liver can be matched to them.

"Due to an increasing gap between the available donors and patients waiting for an organ, there is an urgent clinical need for more human donor livers. We knew that in order to fix or even regenerate a liver, we needed to create a machine that could preserve a liver longer than any other machine on the market." Said Dr. Pierre-Alain Clavien, Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Transplantation at the University Hospital Zurich.


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