August 28, 2018
1 min read

UT Southwestern demonstrates efficacy of portable donor liver system

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UT Southwestern announced its participation in the Liver PROTECT trial of a portable system designed to keep livers warm and blood circulating prior to liver transplantation, according to a press release.

“It’s like a virtual transplant,” Malcolm MacConmara, MD, from UT Southwestern’s department of surgery and lead researcher of the Liver PROTECT study, said in the release. “By putting the liver on the machine, we can truly approximate the conditions of the body. We provide oxygen, blood and nutrition to the liver and watch how it functions before the patient receives the organ.”

According to the release, the portable Organ Care System (TransMedics) is approximately the size of a shopping cart. The interior design connects the donor liver to tubes that infuse the organ with blood.

In a recent transplant case, a 59-year-old patient with liver failure related to cirrhosis and liver cancer underwent transplant at UT Southwestern with a liver transported from a local donor hospital. The patient tolerated the surgery, was removed from the ventilator at the end of the procedure and continued to demonstrate rapid recovery with discharge 3 days posttransplant.

“The longer a liver sits on ice, the more likely it is to have problems after transplant. The liver will become unusable if it has been stored for too long,” Parsia Vagefi, MD, from UT Southwestern and lead surgeon of the recent case’s surgery team, said in the release. “With many patients waiting for organs, this new way of treating organs may expand the number of donated livers that can be used for transplant.”