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Medicine

Device Keeps Liver Alive Outside Body For 24 Hours 62

Posted by timothy
from the pure-whiskey dept.
kkleiner writes "A new device will keep a liver alive outside of the human body for up to 24 hours. Developed at Oxford, the OrganOx circulates oxygenated red bloods cells and nutrients through the liver while maintaining the proper temperature. Doctors estimate that this new technique could double the number of livers available, saving the lives of thousands who die every year awaiting transplant."
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Device Keeps Liver Alive Outside Body For 24 Hours

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  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @08:14AM (#43545285)
    If the subject is a liver then in what sense is it remarkable that they're kept alive?
    • Meh, you're right. Let's see if they can kill dice next!
    • You are too subtle for your own good. You might have at least hinted something like, "come on, it is a liver, not a deader, its no big deal keeping it alive".
    • by necro81 (917438)
      It is good if you can keep it alive, because it keeps it viable for transplant to a dying patient for longer. So keeping the liver alive longer means more people receive transplants, so more people live longer, fuller lives.
    • If the subject is a liver then in what sense is it remarkable that they're kept alive?

      You need to keep it fresh for the delivery. Although, from POV of the transplant recipient, I guess that would be a relivery, wouldn't it?

  • by knopf (894888) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @08:15AM (#43545291)
    At the Toronto General Hospital they have a full lung living outside the body. They talked about it in this short TED segment. Ex Vivo Lung: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2EmuyHoMAI [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 25, 2013 @08:18AM (#43545303)

    Head in a jar, here we come!

    • Head in a jar, here we come!

      Ladies and gentlemen, I can envision a day when the brains of brilliant men can be kept alive in the bodies of dumb people.

  • What? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    No onions?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 25, 2013 @08:22AM (#43545355)

    I need a device to keep my liver alive inside my body.

  • So will this help me get more drunk? Less hungover? Will I dance better? I mean, what else do you really use your liver for?

  • by Albanach (527650) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @08:44AM (#43545521) Homepage

    This is quite specific to liver transplants in the United States. Here most patients who die while awaiting a liver transplant have had an offer of a donor liver. 55% of patients who die have had the offer of a high-quality donor liver.

    Increasing supply will always be a good thing, but there are huge issues to be addressed in making sure those on the US wait list for a liver transplant actually get a transplant from the available organ supply. It seems patients and doctors are turning down way too many good organs.

    "Our data show that the current liver allocation system has provided one or more transplant opportunities to nearly all candidates before death/delisting. Therefore, simply increasing the availability of de-ceased donor livers or the number of offers may not substantially reduce wait-list mortality." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22841780 [nih.gov]

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      The most heartbreaking thing about that, I was just reading the story of someone who died after being delisted. Delisted because he was a cancer patient on medical marijuana, and testing positive for marijuana disqualified him for a liver.

      The rationale? A positive on the drug test may indicate drug abuse and smoking increases exposure to aspergillius fungus, both of which are risk factors for the implanted organ.

      seriously... and to think there is actually not a shortage of livers.... thats just terrible.

      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aclS1pGHp8o [youtube.com] I mean, that's how I get all MY livers...
      • by hedwards (940851)

        It gets worse when you realize that the shortages are the result of including people that couldn't be given a transplant even if there were a perfect match available right now. Either they're no longer healthy enough or they're otherwise not cleared for the transplant. In either case they're kept on the list to bolster efforts to get more organs.

        Which is problematic because in the US the standards employed to ensure that the system doesn't turn people into organ donors when there's still a chance of saving

        • by Beorytis (1014777)

          What's more, in many places they're changing the standards so that it's opt out and good luck if you happen to be taken to a hospital that doesn't have a record of you not wanting to give up your organs, or where you have specific wishes you want respected.

          I'm going to go out on a short, cynical limb and guess that the hospitals still get paid (well) for removing and preserving the organs from such "donors" whether or not they have a chance of finding a recipient, and that these same hospitals lobby for the revised standards in the name of "saving more people."

          • by Albanach (527650)

            I'm going to go out on a short, cynical limb and guess...

            I think you may have guessed wrong. This page [lutheranhospital.com] states that the costs of harvesting the organ is borne by the recipient/the recipient's insurance. If correct, it is very much in the interests of the hospital harvesting the donor organs for them to be used rather than discarded. There would be no economic motivation to harvest an organ that they know will not be used.

            • by Beorytis (1014777)
              For the hospital you linked, it does sound like the organ is not harvested until they know there's a recipient. But there still have to be some cases where the transplant doesn't happen. It's hard to imagine the hospital simply writing off their costs in those cases.
  • Just take liver out, go out drinking and put it back in when finished. What could wrong with that?
  • This is good - my liver sure doesn't stand much of a chance as long as it's still inside me.
  • The lead researcher on the project was a Dr H. Lecter, who is also researching methods of Fava Bean propagation, and assisting Italian wine growers in enhancing the quality of Chianti.

    When asked for a comment, Dr Lecter said: I do wish we could chat longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner. Bye

  • by olip85 (1770514)

    I don't know how to keep a liver alive outside a body for 24 hours, but I know how to destroy a liver inside a body in under 24 hours.

  • What requirement for liver survival is not being met? I recall quite some time ago when it was considered to be some sort of breakthrough when they realized "you know that pump we use when we do heart surgery? The body needs pulsing circulation to survive, so let's do that instead of just streaming fluid." I have to wonder if they are trying something similar here.

  • ... didn't like, no, didn't like it one bit...

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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