A new project called "DeLiver" is currently developing a transport system for liver transplants. This system is designed to ensure optimal monitoring of organ function. Flexible temperature regulation, nutrition and oxygen supply of the organ play an important role in this process.
"Donor livers are exposed to various hazards during transport - for example, due to the temperatures that are common today during transport or because of the exposed blood circulation. We want to address both of these problem areas in our research project, thus maintaining or even improving the quality of the transplanted organs and thus reducing risks for the patients," said Prof. Dr. Ompe Aimé Mudimu, Deputy Director of the Institute for Rescue Engineering and Emergency Medical Services at the Cologne Technical University, Germany (Technische Hochschule Köln).
Removed donor livers are usually cooled down to four degrees in special boxes with ice and then transported. This phase of non-circulation of the organ damages the organ function. DeLiver therefore aims to create a transport system in which a temperature of between 8 and 37 degrees Celsius can be continuously adjusted. This would allow the removal teams to flexibly determine the appropriate temperature depending on the condition of the organ.
The lack of blood flow during transport and the restoration of blood flow also endanger organs intended for transplantation. The planned system should therefore use a pump to permanently supply the organ with blood, oxygen and nutrients, which should reduce the damage. The project will also investigate the possibility of administering drugs that improve the condition of the organ. Using integrated measurement technology, the new transport system should be able to permanently determine the organ's current oxygen and glucose consumption. These and other measurement results will then enable the transplant teams to assess the condition of the donor liver and adapt their procedures accordingly.
"Transport systems with temperature regulation have so far been too large and heavy for transfers between different clinics and are currently only used within one building. Our challenge is therefore to develop a compact and lightweight system that still integrates the necessary technical equipment," said Prof. Dr. Mudimu. This includes a special pump that maintains the blood flow, an oxygenator for oxygen supply, a syringe pump for the application of nutrients and medication, a heat exchanger and extensive measurement technology. As a first step, the immediate aim of the project is to create a concept device that will be presented at conferences and trade fairs.