The chances of losing patients with severe liver diseases could soon decline as scientists have developed a machine that can keep a human liver alive and even regenerate itself, outside of the body, for an entire week.
A study conducted by researchers in Switzerland showcased that six out of ten perfused human livers that were deemed unsuitable for transplant recovered to their full functionality within one week of being hooked up to the machine.
These livers have yet to be transplanted, but the fact that they can fully recover to be in good enough shape for transplantation is a huge moment in medical history. Until now, livers could be stored safely outside the body for only about 12 hours, severely limiting how far they can be transported.
The new invention, known as Liver4Life, to which the liver is attached, mimics crucial body processes such as circulation, blood filtering, and movement. The human liver is hooked to tubes in the device that pumps oxygen-filled blood through it, as well as remove old blood from it which is subsequently filtered – just like our kidneys do.
The technological feat represents a breakthrough in transplant medicine and has the potential to save the lives of many patients suffering from severe liver disease or a variety of cancers.