New Liver Transplantation Procedure 

A “game changing” new procedure assessed by the National Institute for health and Care Excellence (NICE) for storing donated livers for transplants has been approved.

While waiting for a liver transplant about 20% of patients die and one third of donated livers are unable to be used. Thanks to a perfusion machine that pumps the liver with blood, the rate of tissue deterioration of a liver has been extended to triple the length of time after being removed from a donor. The machine hopes to increase the number of organs available for a transplant which would save more lives and decrease waiting lists for transplants.

Professor Kevin Harris, programme director and clinical advisor for the Interventional Procedures Programme at NICE, comments: “This procedure offers hope for patients needing a liver transplant. It offers another way of preserving the liver and assessing whether livers which might have previously been considered unsuitable, can be used safely”.

According to the National Statistics in the UK, liver disease has been ranked as the fifth most common cause of death and liver transplantation is a highly successful treatment for end stages of the disease which counts for 2 million deaths a year globally.

NICE had reviewed recent evidence from trials and have deemed that the procedure “worked well and was safe to be offered to patients who had been fully informed of the risks and benefits”.

About 40 patients have undergone transplants as part of trials of this new machine but new guidance means that they can use this procedure far more routinely. This new technique would ultimately mean that livers that were once considered to be unsuitable can now be used safely. To further monitors its success, doctors must seek approval from their trusted management and record all the data from the procedure in a database.

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