Donor kidneys revitalized for transplant at Toronto General Hospital
Special machine keeps donor kidney preserved and healthy, which could make more transplants possible
The idea is can we make better organs? Can we actually end up transplanting an organ that is better than the way that we found it?’
– Dr. Shaf Keshavjee
That’s only a start.
The researchers are working on using gene and stem cell therapies to help donor organs further repair themselves using the outside-the-body technique and to make them less subject to rejection by molecularly tweaking them for individual recipients.
In the future, almost all organs could end up on support systems to keep them healthy until transplant and prepare them in a personalized way for each patient, Keshavjee predicted.
“We’re developing a machine that will allow us to do 10 lungs at a time instead of one, and I think it will be the same for kidney and liver, and we’re working on that,” he said.
He also envisions donor lungs, hearts, kidneys and livers being processed in organ repair centres, which would then transport them to “the right patient at the right time.”
“I don’t think we’ll be sending every organ in a Lear jet like we do today. I think we’ll send organs by drones.”
In the distant future, there may even come a time when people won’t need organ transplants.
In 2008, Drs. Shaf Keshavjee and Marcelo Cypel of Toronto General Hospital were the first in the world to pioneer the ex-vivo technique to help repair damaged donor lungs.
As a result, there’s been a major increase in lung transplants at the hospital since 2012, and similar systems are now used worldwide. TGH alone has performed 308 lung transplants with ex-vivo-enhanced organs.