There’s a nationwide shortage of organs for transplanting and unfortunately not every donated organ is suitable; in the case of kidneys for example, around 15% are deemed unusable.
This can be for a variety of reasons, including age of the donor, their disease history and the length of time the organ has been in cold storage.
However, Professor Mike Nicholson and Dr Sarah Hosgood (Surgery) have created a machine (adapted from one used for cardiac bypass surgery), called the ‘organ perfusion system’, which is able to rejuvenate and assess kidneys deemed unfit for transplant, making them healthy again – and suitable for a recipient. With funding from Kidney Research UK and the National Institute for Health Research, they have been able to take kidneys rejected from other transplant centres, resuscitate and assess them, then transplant them.
In December last year, two individuals on the organ transplant waiting list received the perfect Christmas present courtesy of the Cambridge team: a new kidney.