Kirk, Allan (NIDDK)
Elster, Eric (NIDDK)
The number of patients for organ transplants continues to grow, without an increase in the number of organs available for transplant. This has increased interest in transplanting organs from non-traditional sources, such as donations after cardiac death. However, there are currently no methods to objectively measure the effects of resuscitation and ischemia damage on organ viability.
The present invention relates to systems and methods for evaluating the status and characterization of organs, determining their suitability for transplants, as well as restoring the viability of organs intended for transplants. Particularly, this method is based on using optical (infrared or near infrared) imaging to guide the resuscitation of the donor organs and predict the recovery of grafts challenged with several hours of preservation. This method allows for localization of ischemic areas and guiding targeted resuscitation of the organ.
For example, the inventors have shown that by combining a kidney reperfusion system with infrared imaging equipment, it is possible to differentiate between ischemic and non-ischemic tissue and restore the viability of the kidney. This method can potentially be used to evaluate the viability of any body part or organ intended for transplantation, such as extremities, heart, lungs, and liver. This approach can lead to the utilization of donation-after-cardiac-death organs and can substantially increase the donor pool of organs. Hence, this new method can identify organs that may be considered unsuitable for transplant, and help prevent transplantation of organs whose function may be considered impaired, as well as help guide resuscitation efforts.