Changing Transport


Anchor lead: Organs for transplant may now be maintained much longer outside the body, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Ex vivo perfusion is a way to maintain organs such as lungs or livers outside the body for some time, giving surgeons a chance to assess how well they are functioning, allow them to heal from injury, and extend the time window for transplant. Andrew Cameron, director of organ transplantation at Johns Hopkins, explains.

Cameron: It’s the idea of a liver or a kidney in a box. So the way we’ve done it for fifty years is to take the organs out and keep them cold. And the organs are essentially slowly dying and we have a window of six hours eight hours to get it in. it’s not what we’re going to do anymore. In the future we’re going to take the organs and keep them alive. They’re going to be perfused with blood that carries oxygen and they theoretically could stay out of a body indefinitely. There’s the case of a liver that was outside of a body for seven days.  :31

Cameron hopes the technique will render many more organs suitable for transplant. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.