Between April 1 2011 and March 31 2012, 3,960 organ transplants were carried out in the UK alone. One of the biggest challenges that medical professionals face is the period of viability of the donated organs.
However, US researchers claim that a new organ cooling technique can preserve organs three times longer than the current method used.
‘Supercooling’ combines chilling the organ and pumping nutrients and oxygen into it’s blood vessels.
As soon as the organ is removed from the body its cells begin to die. An organ such as a liver is viable for less than 24 hours, but when supercooled it can last for 3 days.
One of the researchers, Dr Korkut Uygun from the Harvard Medical School, stated that this technique could lead to organs being shared around the world.
"That would lead to better donor matching, which would reduce-long term organ rejection and complications, which is one of the major issues in organ transplant," he said.
Dr Rosemarie Hunziker, from the US National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, said: "This is a critically important step in advancing the practice of organ storage for transplantation."
Further testing is now needed to see if the technology can work on human organs, although the researchers believe that it should work.
Source: The BBC