Saturday, June 2, 2012

Livers Livin' Longer

Nearly 2000 Australians are on organ transplant lists. A new organ could give these people a new life.  Dr Constantin Coussios, a biomedical engineer from Oxford, has discovered a new method to greatly increase the viability of the liver. This will save lives.

Currently preservation methods for livers involve cooling the organ down; not dissimilar to the method we use to preserve meat. This method slows down the rate of metabolism, and extends the life of the liver to 15 hours.

Coussios’ new method involves connecting the liver to a blood supply, which tricks the liver into thinking it’s still connected to the body. The liver continues to metabolise, and even produce bile.

Coussios told ABC National Radio, “We estimate that we could increase the number available livers for transplantation between 50% and 100%”. Coussios’ method gives a promise of new life.

William Coorey

Dr William Coorey, from Grafton Northern NSW, also recognises the importance and potential of the discovery. “An increased viability, would allow livers to reach further.  Coussios’ technique could lead to an increase the willingness to donate, as people know that their liver could be kept alive for a greater period of time, increasing the hope of reaching a potential recipient. Essentially, it gives a face to organ transplantation.”

Despite new discoveries, Australia is a mile behind in the organ transplant race. Although is a world leader for successful transplant outcomes, it has one of the lowest donation rates in the developed world. As Dr Coorey recognises, “Although organ donation is an ethical conversation for doctors to have with patients, it is widely ignored. Organ donation should be a topic in the public consciousness… Public consciousness has the ability to save lives.”  
For more information on organ donation, visit

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