New breakthrough for organ donation means that many organs can be saved by being frozen and stored to be used at a later stage.
Researchers have made a breakthrough discovery in the organ donation field which will mean saving many more lives. The team has managed to safely rewarm heart valves and blood vessels. The new technique means that organs such as hearts and lungs can be saved for longer periods of time.
There is a shortage of organs available for donation and many organs that cannot reach a recipient in time are discarded. Currently more than 60 percent of organs are discarded.
“If even half of organs that are currently thrown away were successfully transplanted, transplant waiting lists could be eliminated in less than two years.”
“It means hospitals should be able to create banks of donated organs, to which patients can travel at their convenience, rather than frantically trying to find suitable recipients when a donor dies.”
Previous unsuccessful methods included control samples being rewarmed slowly over ice or those using convection heating. The new method involves a solution of iron oxide nanoparticles that slowly rewarms the organ without causing any damage. After rewarming and testing for viability, the results showed that none of the tissues displayed signs of harm.
“This is the first time that anyone has been able to scale up to a larger biological system and demonstrate successful, fast, and uniform warming of hundreds of degrees Celsius per minute of preserved tissue without damaging the tissue,” said John Bischof, mechanical engineering professor at the University of Minnesota and senior author of the study.
The solution is easy to wash off the frozen organs. To date the new research has been tested on animal organs but the results are promising for human organs. This is a massive step in the right direction for preserving donated organs. The future is looking bright and many lives will be saved by this new breakthrough.