How OSU Wexner physicians 'test drive' damaged organs before transplants

Harrison Cook - Print  | 

With the ever-growing need for organ transplant innovations, new technologies like ex vivo perfusions allow physicians to better gauge the viability of damaged lungs for transplants, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Ex vivo perfusion technology works by placing the damaged lungs into a machine, which keeps the organs alive at body temperature. Here, physicians assess the strength and functionality of the organ to see if it is viable for transplantation.

Columbus-based Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center created a lung perfusion program in August 2016. In the past two years, physicians used perfused lungs for 11 out of 92 transplants.

OSU Wexner's ex vivo perfusion program is now expanding to also test livers for viable transplantation. OSU Wexner's first perfused-liver transplant will occur in the next two to three months as part of a clinical trial sponsored by TransMedics, which manufactures ex vivo perfusion technology.

"It allows you, for the first time, to consider repairing organs," Sylvester Black, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery, liver transplant program at OSU Wexner.  "I can take the organ out for a test drive, so to speak … It will change, in the next 10 to 15 years, the face of how we do transplants the world over."

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