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Transplant tech maximizes donor-organ potential


GUANGZHOU — An organ transplant technique adopted by a Chinese hospital has garnered widespread attention for its potential to solve the problem of damage to donor organs due to lack of blood flow during transplantation.

The technique pioneered by Professor He Xiaoshun at the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, was used during a surgery in December.

Organ transplant experts from Germany, the United States and the World Health Organization met at the hospital to observe the liver transplant operation.

In traditional organ transplantation, donor organs are rapidly supplied with liquid, preserved with ice, transported and then implanted into the patient. During the process, the blood supply to the organs is interrupted, leading to unavoidable damage and compromising the quality of the organs.

The team has dedicated itself for years to solving the problem of organ damage during transplantation.

In 2016, the team developed a device that can stimulate the human body to provide blood and nutrition for the donor organ, allowing it to remain "fresh" for a longer time.

With the help of this device, He's team successfully carried out the first liver, kidney and heart transplants worldwide without damage due to lack of blood.

Compared with traditional transplantation, the new technology has significantly reduced postoperative complications and improved the utilization of organs. The research results have been published in international medical journals and discussed at academic conferences, arousing widespread attention.

"They have shown that the technology is safe and can solve the problems we are facing," said Bjorn Nashan, former president of the German Transplantation Society, who has been to Guangzhou on several occasions to observe the surgery.

Optimistic about the future of organ transplantation in China, Nashan moved to China in 2017 to work as director of the organ transplant center at a hospital. Nashan said he hoped to work with the Chinese team to bring the technology to Germany and other countries.

"Professor He and his team have demonstrated that they are at the cutting edge in organ transplantation. The technology can be promoted to regions within and outside China through cooperation," said John Fung, president-elect of the Transplantation Society.

"The innovations and surgical techniques have increased the possibility of utilizing more organs, especially those not in good condition and that otherwise may have been rejected, thus maximizing the potential of donor organs," said Efstratios Chatzixiros, adviser on transplantation at the WHO.