For the first time at ISMETT in Palermo, two liver transplants were performed using reconditioned organs from elderly donors. This is the fourth time graft reconditioning is used before a liver transplant in Italy, and the first time in Southern Italy.
Liver reconditioning for purpose of transplantation requires extremely complex and expensive equipment. The goal of this technique is to improve the graft’s conditions. In order to do so, the procured organ is perfused before the transplant. “Up until now, the problem of using organs from elderly donors was the high incidence of organ failure in the immediate post-op”, says Salvo Gruttadauria, MD, chief of the Abdominal Surgery and Organ Transplantation Unit. “Using liver perfusion and reconditioning systems allow to use grafts that otherwise would not be suitable for transplantation.” Of the two grafts used at ISMETT, one underwent subnormothermic (low temperature) perfusion, the other one underwent a normothermic perfusion, a much more complex process. Today the two patients are in good general conditions, and the one who received the organ treated with normothermic perfusion has already been discharged.
“The shortage of organs”, says Angelo Luca, MD, CEO of ISMETT, “causes every year the death of many patients on the waiting list for a transplant, but it also involves high costs for the regional health care system, since patients with end-stage organ failure require frequent hospitalizations and very expensive treatments. The lack of organs is a national problem, and this is even more so in Sicily given that over 50% of the grafts come from donors of other regions, and they are almost always “marginal” organs. As a center of excellence, ISMETT invests in research and implementing new technologies to increase the number of available organs, reduce waiting times, improve patients’ quality of life, and use regional public money as efficiently as possible.”
“In 2015, for the first time in Europe”, continues Angelo Luca, “we used the Xvivo Perfusion System technology to improve the quality and function of lungs before transplanting them. Today we’re using this new available technology for liver reconditioning.”
In Italy, the use of reconditioning techniques is regulated by the National Transplantation Center (CNT). Thanks to the use of these techniques there’s an expected 10% increase in the number of transplants.