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New kidney storage method tested

6th January 2009

Researchers from the Netherlands report that they have found a way to help kidneys from deceased donors transplant successfully.

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Doctors compared two groups of kidneys kept in existing methods of kidney preservation. The kidneys were kept either in cold storage or preserved using cold perfusion.

Cold perfusion involves connecting the kidney to a device pumping a sanguineous solution.

One year later, 94% of the kidneys kept perfused were transplanted successfully, compared with 90% of those stored using cold, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Moreover, only 21% of the kidneys that were perfused refused to work in the weeks after transplantation, as compared with 26% of the others.

Bryan Becker, president of the National Kidney Foundation, says that while 4% may not appear to be a lot, that would be a significant cost benefit on behalf of the patient.

About 62% of kidneys transplanted in the US come from cadavers each year and cannot be used without correct preservation.

Studies in the past have shown that in order to mollify the risk of the transplanted kidney failing to work in its new body, a kidney must be transplanted within 24 hours.

Recent evidence suggests that perfusion machines might maintain the organs better than the method most organ centers use.

Rutger Ploeg of the University Medical Center of Groningen began a trial in which patients belonging to an international group of organ exchanges called Eurotransplant took part.

Researchers extracted a pair of kidneys from 336 deceased donors. Within 24 hours, one kidney from each pair was attached to a perfusion machine. The second from each pair was placed in cold storage.

Then, 672 patients received the kidneys. Of the 336 given a prefused kidney, less than one third (70) developed the condition. In delayed graft function, the kidney fails to function just after it is transplanted.

Among the 336 patients who had been given a kidney stored using cold storage, over one third (89) developed a condition called delayed graft function.

The researchers concluded that the perfused kidneys had a 12% better graft survival rate than those in cold storage.

Ploeg said that these results should help doctors take advantage of the kidneys at their disposal.

The study also found that all kidneys preserved by machine performed better than those in cold storage.

 

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