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  1. ITV Report

'Pioneering machine' for patients awaiting liver transplant

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson

A pioneering machine, which allows doctors to store donor livers for an additional 24 hours, could help patients to receive a life-saving organ transplant.

This new way of doubling the survival time of a liver, outside the body, has the potential to save hundreds of lives.

Until now, keeping a liver viable has depended on chilling it on ice - although this comes with a 12 hour time limit.

Doctors at the Royal Free Hospital now have the option to use the device, OrganOx metra, which mimics the human body by keeping donor livers at body temperature.

The machine has been hailed by transplant surgeons. Credit: ITV News

The new invention supplies the liver with oxygenated blood, nutrients and medicines raises the time limit to 24 hours.

Trevor, from Waterlooville, Hampshire, was the first NHS patient to receive a liver transplant using the metra at the hospital.

The 69-year-old was diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer in November 2018 and the only treatment option was a liver transplant.

Trevor first came in for the procedure in March but it was cancelled at the last minute after the liver was deemed unsuitable.

A week later he was matched with a new donor liver, which was first assessed on the OrganOx device and this time the transplant went ahead and was a success.

The new invention supplies the liver with oxygenated blood, nutrients and medicines raises the time limit to 24 hours. Credit: ITV News

Satheesh Iype, the consultant surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital who carried out Trevor’s transplant, said: "In trials, the OrganOx device showed superior results to the regular method of storage.

"It is appropriate to use in cases where donor liver quality might be difficult to assess because it simulates the conditions in the body so you can assess its functionality before making a decision whether or not to transplant."

Other transplant surgeons from the hospital have hailed the new machine as pioneering as more livers can go on to be transplanted.

David Nasralla, told ITV News: "At present the biggest challenge facing liver transplantation is the shortage of organs.

"Now we know about one in eight patients die whilst waiting for a liver and what we have seen from this machine by being able to assess livers and monitor them outside of the body to see if they're functioning, we can then increase the number of livers that go on to be transplanted.

"We hope the machine will help us in terms of the number of transplantable organs," he added.