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A machine that can assess a cadaveric liver’s function

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Will curb wastage of organs deemed unfit for transplantation

A cadaveric liver that was rejected by a hospital was transplanted into a 42-year-old patient, after surgeons of Kauvery Hospital found that its functionality could be improved using a machine. Called the OrganOx, it enabled surgeons to assess a liver’s functionality in about 12 hours.

The patient – Vimal Kumar Sharma, from Jaipur – suffered from chronic liver disease and was on the waitlist for a transplant for a few months. A liver from a 53-year-old cadaveric donor was available, but there was a catch.

“The donor underwent a CT scan prior to organ donation, and the liver was found to be extremely fatty. The organ was rejected by another hospital. We took the liver and put it on the machine, OrganOx, which is an outcome of 15 years of research at Oxford. We left the liver on the machine for 11.5 hours to see if it would work,” said S. Vivekanandan, senior consultant and liver and pancreatic oncology and transplant surgeon, Kauvery Hospital.

The blood from the liver flowed into the machine, and provided parameters for liver functionality, including bile production and lactate clearance, he told reporters on Thursday.

In 11.5 hours, doctors knew that the liver functioned well and produced bile, and decided to use the organ.

The patient underwent the transplant on October 4 and was discharged in 10 days.

The cold ischemic time for a liver is 10 to 12 hours, but the organ, especially in doubtful circumstances, can be put in this machine for 24 hours to ensure that it is working, he said.

There are three such machines in India, and for now, it can only be rented, he said. Rajasekhar Perumalla, director and senior consultant, liver and pancreatic surgery, and Siddharth Jain, consultant surgeon, were present.

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