Dr. Robert Stratta and his team at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have demonstrated that a specialized renal pump can broaden the range of acceptable transplantable organs, without negatively affecting patient outcomes.
Preserving the kidneys of deceased older donors on a pump – as opposed to the conventional method of storing and transporting organs in a cooler – may lower hospital costs, improve initial organ function, and promote greater use and more sharing of organs, according to new research by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
“By placing kidneys on a portable pump, preservation times can be safely extended to permit more time for sharing organs across the country,” said Robert Stratta, M.D., lead researcher of the study, which is reported in the May issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
In addition, Stratta said, the pump can be used to project the kidney’s initial function – allowing for more appropriate matching of donor organs and recipients.
While machine preservation, or pulsatile perfusion, is not new, it is not widely used because it is more costly and labor-intensive. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, only 21 percent of kidneys from deceased donors are preserved on a pump.
Despite the fact that the machine-preserved kidneys were out of the body for a longer period of time (a mean of 24 hours versus 19 hours for the cold stored organs), both groups of recipients had similar survival and functional outcomes. In addition, the patients receiving machine-preserved kidneys had a 50 percent reduction in the rates of viral infections and delayed graft function, which is the inability of the kidneys to start working on their own without dialysis.
“The routine use of machine preservation for ECD kidneys may lower hospital costs by reducing complications,” said Stratta. “In addition, it may promote more sharing of organs; it is a superior means of preserving organs out of body and provides a way to assess the viability of the organ.”