Organ transplantation: Concept device keeps liver at body temperature and ensures nutrient supply
3/10/2023 Production of the future News

Organ transplantation: Concept device keeps liver at body temperature and ensures nutrient supply

Livers intended for transplantation are currently transported between hospitals under refrigeration. During this process, and especially during the subsequent warming, the organ can be irreversibly damaged. An alternative method of transport is mechanical perfusion at body temperature, which also provides oxygen. Based on this technology, the Institute of Rescue Engineering and Hazard Defence of the TH Cologne, together with partners from industry and research, has now developed a concept device for a novel, compact transport system.

Ambulance on the way to the hospital for organ transplantation

Extensive technology in a small space

The concept of a transport box developed in the DeLiver project measures 53 x 69 x 36 cm and weighs about 20 kilogrammes. It contains a holder for the liver and a peristaltic pump that gently pumps blood or a replacement fluid through the organ under physiological conditions. 

In the concept device, the temperature in the box can be continuously adjusted between eight and 37 degrees Celsius. This would allow the removal teams to choose the appropriate temperature depending on the condition of the organ. The flow rate is also variable. 

During transport, the organ is constantly flown through and thus receives oxygen and nutrients, according to the developers. This makes it possible to significantly reduce organ damage. A syringe pump system also makes it possible to add medicines that are necessary to maintain the organ's function. However, this would have to be individually adapted for each organ. 

The integrated measuring technology should make it possible for the system to permanently determine the current oxygen consumption of the organ. These and other measurement results should enable the transplant teams to assess the condition of the donor liver and adjust their procedure accordingly.
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