Medicine And Health
Putting a liver at four degrees below zero without freezing is a key step for the future of transplants
Yes, we have the technology to perform almost any transplant we may need or imagine, what we don’t have are organs for everyone . That simple truth is something that has radically modeled healthcare systems around the world.
Above all, because that of the organs is, without a doubt, one of the most adjusted careers in the contemporary world because it is a race, literally, to life or death. However, a Massachusetts General Hospital team has just done something that can change things, just “frozen” a liver .
A (super) cool technique
The “freeze” quotes are important. Actually, you can’t freeze a liver . These organs are a huge hypervasculated mass that, if frozen, suffer injuries that send their viability to the fret. Therefore, right now, once the liver is removed from a body, it is preserved at about four degrees Celsius.
That gives us about 12 hours of margin before the viability of the organ is compromised. What the MassGeneral team has been looking for is a way to further cool the liver without causing damage to it . And it seems he has found it.
Researchers have managed to cool the organ to four degrees below zero without freezing it ( supercooling ) thanks to an oxygenated blood perfusion system that reduces the contact of coolants with air and allows different antifreeze products (such as glycerol) to be added .
And the result is 15 extra hours of useful time . That is, the system doubles the time we have to find compatible patients, prepare operations and transport the organs there: it would give us a lot of room to make the most of every opportunity.
Obviously, we have to almost freeze our enthusiasm: the system still needs to go a long way to reach the clinics, but the figures are really surprising . Something that will not solve the transplant problem, but that will help us scratch precious time.