University of Wisconsin is well know for its work on organ preservation. After all, the ViaSpan cold storage solution for pancreas, liver, and kidneys, was developed in the late 1980s by Folkert Belzer and James Southard at the University of Wisconsin. This technology is being used clinically to this day.
Prior to transplant, a harvested organ needs to be prepared in what is known as a “backbench procedure”. This can involve ligating vessels, removing fat, and prepping arteries and veins, but a critical thing is to keep the organ constantly cooled using ice. Ice, though, as everyone knows, melts and sloshes around. This is not ideal and can lead to significant temperature changes for the organ, a fact that often goes unnoticed. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and nearby Morgridge Institute for Research have been working on an Organ Cooler Project to come up with a better cooling method.
Their new organ cooler does not use any ice, but instead relies on a special preservation solution that may be more effective overall. The device can keep the solution within a narrow temperature range, and so preserving the organ as ideally as possible. Because ice is not utilized, the device may even be used with new preservation techniques that keep the organ at body temperature.