Improvement of organ quality before transplantation

At the LUMC Transplant Center we carry out advanced research aimed at improving the quality of organs by means of machine perfusion.

In 2017 at the LUMC Transplant Center a special room was realized within the Surgery Department where organs can be prepared for transplantation, the so-called Organ Preservation and Regeneration unit (OPR).

Before an organ is transplanted, its quality should be as good as possible. It is standard practice to keep organs on ice before transplantation. There is now a worldwide and increasing interest in pumping round fluids through the organ during this storage period: machine perfusion. This promising technique may improve the quality of organs even before they get transplanted.

Regenerative medicine

As one of the first centers in the Netherlands and also worldwide the Transplant Center of the LUMC has a fully operational Organ Perfusion and Regeneration unit (OPR). At the OPR organs are prepared for transplantation and if necessary pre-treated by means of machine perfusion. The OPR is a crossroads of laboratory research and its clinical application. What is special about the OPR at the LUMC is the possibility to combine the application of regenerative and stem cell techniques with machine perfusion. The LUMC is in the vanguard as the first center in the Netherlands where it is possible to grow stem cells which can be given to patients (GMP facility). Also the isolation and transplantation of Islets of Langerhans as treatment for diabetes makes the LUMC Transplant Center unique in the Netherlands. By combining this technique with the possibilities of the new OPR, we hope to further improve our results. 

In the future we wish to combine the machine perfusion at the OPR with the application of medication and stem cells to prepare organs for transplantation. It is not only the intention to store the organs as well as possible, but also to let them recover. Later on we also hope to restore organs which are now of too poor a quality for transplantation to a level at which they can fully function after transplantation. This means more organs would become available, so that more patients on the waiting list could have a transplantation. For more information please refer to the page Regenerative medicine.

What does this mean for you?

Before the transplantation you may be asked to participate in scientific research as part of which organs are perfused with a machine. In the future we also want to use machine perfusion to improve the organ quality by for example pumping round medication or stem cells. If this applies to your personal situation we will inform you about it.