“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., from the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, lead researcher of the study. 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 labour-intensive.

The study involved organs from “expanded criteria” donors (ECDs). This category was created by UNOS in 2002 so that higher risk donor organs, could be transplanted safely. The category includes kidneys from deceased donors over age 60 years or those over age 50 with health conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke or elevated levels of a protein called creatinine. The current study included 120 ECD kidney transplants -- 95 kidneys were preserved with machine and 25 with simple cold storage preservation techniques.

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.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center