Liver Transplants Are Vastly Improved By A New Technology

According to the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), a new technology called machine perfusion (MP) has the potential to solve organ shortage, a major challenge in liver transplantation.

The First Transplant Recipients Using MP

A forty-five-year-old mother from Ranton, Staffordshire, UK was given a liver transplant in 2015 using the new machine perfusion technique.

Sue Bennett said that although she had agreed to sign up for the clinical trial she was not aware that she would be among the first transplant patients testing the new procedure.

The hospital was able to find a matching donor and the liver was kept alive overnight using machine perfusion. The operation was a success and Sue was home in a little over one week.

Sue compared her illness prior to the transplant with her improved quality of life after the liver transplant. She can now devote more quality time to her children,  she goes to the gym, and is able to return to full-time employment.

 Sue’s experience is typical of many liver transplant patients who are grateful for their good health.

 About Machine Perfusion (MP)

 MP is a new technique that is used in organ transplantation to preserve organs waiting for a transplant. MP reduces tissue deterioration which generally occurs when the liver is removed. MP extends the length of time the liver remains viable and can be preserved for storage.

Research on MP has been conducted at the University of Birmingham where it has been hailed as a technique that will substantially increase the number of livers available for transplant while reducing the number of patients on the list waiting for transplants.

MP is also used as a method to assess whether livers that were previously considered unsuitable for transplant may be transplanted safely.

About Liver Transplants

There are several rules that surgeons must follow when performing liver transplants. They must advise patients that the procedure may not be effective. The surgeons must adhere to the legal and regulatory requirements set out by the Human Tissue Authority. And lastly, they must enter a report about the transplant into the UK transplant registry of the NHSBT.

In England, liver transplantation is highly effective for end-stage liver disease. The disease kills approximately eleven thousand people each year. Hundreds of patients die every year waiting for liver transplants.

In the last ten years, liver disease has increased twenty-five percent and is still increasing while the age of those affected is lower each year.

According to NHS Blood and Transplant, as of March 2018 1043 patients in the UK had received liver transplants and there were 359 patients in the UK on the transplant list.

The list reached a ten year high in 2015 totaling 611 patients. There is speculation that some credit for the reduction in the waiting list should be given to the National Liver Offering Scheme (NLOS) that was also introduced in March 2015.

About the NLOS

The NLOS considers the donor as well as the patient and prioritizes the liver donation in accordance with which liver recipient will receive the most benefit. The decision is arrived at using a scoring system known as the transplant Benefit Score.

There are several rules that surgeons must follow when performing liver transplants. They must advise patients that the procedure may not be effective. The surgeons must adhere to the legal and regulatory requirements set out by the Human Tissue Authority. And lastly, they must enter a report about the transplant into the UK transplant registry of the NHSBT.

We are reminded that organ transplants would not be possible without the selflessness and generosity of organ donors.


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Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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