Zurich University is De-Livering The Future

Good news for alcoholics – or anyone else needing a new liver – a new machine has been unveiled that can repair damaged human livers, and keep the organ alive outside of the human body for up to a week.

The promising technology – developed over the course of four years by researchers from the University of Zurich and University Hospital Zurich (USZ) – shows potential for those awaiting liver transplants around the world. In the US alone, there are just under 17 000 people on a waiting list for a new liver.

Currently, human livers can be stored up to 24 hours by flushing the organ with a cold solution to reduce activity and then supplying it with oxygenated fluids and blood. The machine operates greatly improving upon this method by imitating the real-life conditions and environment of a liver inside the human body

Professor Pierre-Alain Clavien, Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Transplantation at USZ, said: “The success of this unique perfusion system … paves the way for many new applications in transplantation and cancer medicine helping patients with no liver grafts available.”

The researchers’ next step is to successfully transplant one of the repaired livers into a living person.