A remarkable medical development was achieved: a human liver was treated in a special machine that extended its life out of the human body before being transplanted into a patient. The perfusion device was designed by the Liver4Life research group and seeks to duplicate the conditions of the human body. The machine acted as a "new home" for the liver, with a pump as the heart and an oxygenator as the lungs: after this prolonged "stay", the organ was successfully transplanted.
Long live the liver
The patient, a 62-year-old Swiss man with liver cancer and cirrhosis, received the liver "regenerated" by drugs and perfusion after three days of waiting. A huge step forward, when you take into account that organs usually only last up to 12 hours. Current procedures involve keeping them on ice or in a traditional perfusion machine.
This new advancement can make history of transplants: What were once incredibly time-sensitive emergency procedures can now be transformed into planned procedures. This could save an incredible number of lives.
Not just for a transplanted organ
The new machine developed by the University of Zurich can also make a difference in medicine and liver health. It opens the way for the possibility of testing new drugs on livers stored within these devices, rather than giving them to patients as test drugs. Being able to test the limitations of this machine could lead to further improvements in treating liver disease.
One year after the operation, the transplant patient is healthy and well. This discovery could be the first step in solving the organ shortage problem. And once the effectiveness and safety of the operation on other patients are confirmed on a larger scale, it will revolutionize medicine.