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Increasing the Yield for Organ Transplants After Circulatory Death

CU Department of Surgery resident Syed Shahyan Bakhtiyar, MD, and faculty member Jordan Hoffman, MD, published research examining two methods of procuring transplant-viable organs after the heart stops beating.

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Written by Greg Glasgow on April 22, 2024

As waiting lists continue to grow for patients awaiting organ transplants including heart, liver, lung, and kidney, surgeons are looking for ways to increase the number of organs they can take from deceased donors to use in living recipients.

Studying two methods

Syed Shahyan Bakhtiyar, MD, MBE, a resident in the University of Colorado Department of Surgery, and Jordan Hoffman MD, MPH, surgical director of heart and lung transplantation, along with a team from the UCHealth Transplant Center, recently published research looking at two methods of procuring organs from donors after circulatory death (DCD) — normothermic regional perfusion (NRP) and super-rapid recovery (SRR) with ex-situ normothermic machine perfusion (NMP). The study was published in March in the American Journal of Transplantation.

Cost and other considerations

Chief among the factors Bakhtiyar took into consideration was the cost of super-rapid recovery with ex-situ machine perfusion, a proprietary process that costs between $80,000 and $100,000 per organ. The per-organ cost of NRP, by contrast, was around $2,500.

“We went into the research thinking that logically NRP should be cheaper, because you're essentially perfusing the entire donor with one machine,” he says. “And we assumed we would get more organs because you immediately put the donor on the bypass machine, so you're instantly perfusing organs, and therefore the quality is better, and the surgeons will be more likely to accept these organs.”

Standard terminology and cost analysis

Bakhtiyar says that among the advantages of having the new paper published and being read by transplant surgeons throughout the field is that it begins to standardize terminology for transplants of different organs.

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Syed Shahyan Bakhtiyar, MD