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Warming, not cooling, donated livers may improve transplants

April 18, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — Surgeons have long packed donated organs on ice for the race to waiting transplant patients. Now researchers report that preserving at least some livers at body temperature instead may work better.

The livers keep functioning until they’re transplanted thanks to a machine that pumps them full of blood and nutrients. Similar machines are being explored for lung and heart transplants, too.

The transplant community isn’t ditching affordable ice chests for the pricier machines yet. But proponents hope that preserving donations that way might increase transplant rates by allowing longer storage and giving doctors better clues to an organ’s quality.

British researchers examined 220 liver transplants, finding that organs preserved warm had less storage damage and fewer were discarded for quality concerns.

The study was reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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