Could donor organs be frozen to save lives later?

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Long-term preservation of donor organs and tissue for on-demand transplants and medical procedures sounds futuristic — something of the medical ideal.

Need a heart or kidney transplant? Just grab one from the freezer. But, hey, the Arctic wood frog thaws and reanimates each year after being frozen for 240 days, so why can’t the same be done for human hearts, lungs and livers?

Such research, long underway with success in preserving skin tissue and heart valves, largely has remained off the radar, despite its potential to transform medicine.

That’s the message from a position paper published June 7 in Nature Biotechnology with 42 co-authors worldwide, including Yoed Rabin of Carnegie Mellon University. It proposes to pull organ-preservation technology out of the shadows by detailing its potential to save and improve millions of lives annually, with projected worldwide health benefits “on par with curing cancer.”

“Organ preservation is a field ripe for game-changing innovation with entirely new possibilities for organ transplantation opened up by cryopreserving organs,” the report says.



About the Author:

Corey Bryant serves as Director of Communications for The Alliance.
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