Hyderabad: Preserving the organs of a brain-dead organs has been a major challenge for medical professionals. With a new technology, normo-thermic liver perfusion, now available in Hyderabad, the liver harvested from donors can be preserved for 24 hours. Previously, a donated liver had to be used within four to eight hours.
The only challenge is the cost of the technology which will add Rs 5 lakh to the cost of liver transplants. A liver transplant in Hyderabad costs between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 30 lakh.
Dr G. Swarnalatha, incharge of Jeevandan, said, “The new machine to preserve the liver is now available in Hyderabad but it can be used for patients who find it affordable. The cost factors are a constraint.”
The new technology has been tried on four patients in Hyderabad of which three were at Yashoda Hospital and one at KIMS Hosptial. The machine has been brought in four cities, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi.
It is a portable machine which can be transported to the place where the donor livers can be retrieved, and preserved before the use.
The machine maintains the liver in its physiological state wherein depletion of cellular energy and accumulation of waste is avoided.
Dr Balachandran Menon, senior liver transplant surgeon at Yashoda Hosptials, said, “We determine the liver based on the ultrasound and looking at the various parameters like fatty liver to assess whether it will work or not. These are called marginal livers where the chance of rebounding is a guess.”
He said with the normo-thermic perfusion technology, doctors had found that marginal livers can be used as the liver functioning improves after it is put in the machine.
Bile production goes on as well as removal of toxins.
“This will help us use a large number of livers which were earlier considered as unfit for use,” Dr Menon said.
The number of patients registered for liver transplant under Jeevandan is 2,393.
While the doctors insist that the list of Jeevandan for liver transplants will be given the priority, the fact is that cost is a constraint and the technology will be available presently to only those who can afford it.
The three liver transplants carried out on three patients had two of the recipients whose livers were in the end stage and had raised enzymes. The three donors were aged 60, 64 and 67 years and the livers transplanted were found to work well. The three livers were kept in the machine for six hours each and it was found to work well.
Doctors state that this will open the doors to use marginal livers which was earlier not possible.