A British team out of The King's College Hospital in London have successfully kept a donated human liver alive outside of a human body for the first time.
If the new technology were implemented world-wide, it could potentially double the number of livers available for transplant. The current system for delivering livers for transplant involves keeping donor livers on ice. While this can keep a liver fresh for up to 14 hours, beyond about 20 hours the organs are in danger of being damaged. While packed in coolers, the livers cannot maintain their normal function.
The new technology essentially preserves liver function outside the human body. The device maintains the organ at human body temperature and continually provides oxygenated red blood cells through it. The system is completely automated, and it maintains normal liver function for 24 hours or more.
The revolutionary new technology could preserve organs that would normally be discarded, increasing the stock available for those in need of transplants. Currently, in the U.S. and Europe combined, there is a waiting list of about 30,000 patients who need a new liver.