Scientists at Oxford University have developed a new machine which can hold a donated liver and mimic the conditions in which it existed inside the human body.
For the first time, a human liver has been kept ‘alive’, warm and functioning outside the body. After fifteen years of development the machine is seen as a breakthrough with huge implications for all organ transplants. By keeping the organ at room temperature it reduces the amount of damage caused by cooling the fatty tissue stored in the liver. The machine sits on a trolley and requires three units of blood to maintain the liver in a constant environment.
This development could see international change as the device will allow organs to be kept alive for up to 20 hours and transplanted into patients outside the UK who might be a better match. Two patients have successfully been implanted with livers using this machine and around 650 liver transplants take place every year in the UK.