Studies by doctors at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center on a new method to preserve liver has shown interesting results.
Usually, organs after being removed from the donor are kept in cold storage (CS), basically stored on ice prior to transplantation. Doctors have noted that the average quality of the liver has gone down coinciding with the average increase in age of the liver being donated. Thus, when doctors tested a new method of storage called Hypothermic Machine Perfusion (HMP), in which there is a constant supply of oxygen and key nutrients to the liver, while diluting and removing the toxins and waste products, they found that the quality of the transplanted liver was much better.
Doctors made a comparative study of 20 patients who received liver preserved by CS technique versus 20 patients who received liver preserved by HMP. The latter had fewer long term complications and shorter hospital stays.
The new method is not unknown, HMP has been used to preserve kidneys but the doctors are studying methods to make the HMP device more portable and specific to the liver. Liver is inherently more vulnerable to injury compared to Kidney.
With HMP, by keeping the liver in peak condition and improving quality of preservation during the critical period when liver is in transit, the chances of a successful liver transplant is more and also leads to fewer complications post transplant.