Utah Company Changes Method of Organ Transports

Utah Company Changes Method of Organ Transports

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Ed Yeates ReportingA fascinating new device is about to phase out the old way of transporting donated organs in picnic coolers. This new system can keep a kidney alive and functioning for up to 35 hours if needed.

An off the shelf cooler, packed with ice, and used to ship off a donated kidney to its new host is about to become as old fashioned as a horse drawn buggy. The new transport is called "Lifeport,” and it's built right here in Utah.

This is a far cry from a picnic cooler and ice. Lifeport is literally a portable life support system for the organ itself. The system not only keeps the kidney alive, but monitors the organ's vital signs so physicians know exactly what condition it's in before transplant. And it can do it all for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 35 hours, if needed.

Even more, it appears Lifeport might restore some borderline kidneys traditionally discarded, a move that could enlarge the pool of available organs.

David McNally, CEO, Zevex Inc. "The process and the way in which this infuses solution or pumps solution through the organ actually helps to open up and clean the vascular system in the organ and have it operate during its transport period more like it does in real life as well."

Here's how Lifeport works. After removal from the donor the kidney's artery is actually hooked up to the system, which gently pumps a cooling solution into the organ. It's so efficient with kidneys the nation's organ recovery folks foresee a much broader application down the road.

David McNally: “ It’s exciting that this is a platform technology that can possibly move beyond kidneys to liver, heart and pancreas applications.”

Project manager Rick Giles plus 50 other engineers in multiple states worked night and day for the past year getting Lifeport ready for FDA approval, which came last Friday. Lifeport could begin transporting its first kidneys within a month.

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