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A sterile medical device preserved the health of a deceased donor liver and allowed the organ to repair itself. The liver was then successfully transplanted to a 43-year-old patient in Ontario. The device, which mimics human physiological functions, is part of a Phase 1 clinical trial at UHN's Toronto General Hospital (TGH) assessing the safety of the device.

First developed at the University of Oxford, the OrganOx Metra could potentially preserve a liver outside the body for up to 24 hours. The technology has been used successfully in liver transplantation in England, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Edmonton, Alta.

Traditional cold-storage methods cool a deceased donor liver to about 4 degrees Celsius. With no oxygen, the liver's metabolism decreases, inhibiting the repair process. The liver cannot survive longer than 12 hours in cold preservation.

The OrganOx Metra device encloses the liver in a sterile environment, circulating oxygenated blood and nutrients into the liver at body temperature.

The technique of warm organ perfusion outside the body was pioneered in the Toronto Lung Transplant Program at TGH in 2008 by Drs. Shaf Keshavjee and Marcelo Cypel. The process places injured donor lungs in a protective dome in which a system continuously pumps a bloodless solution of oxygen, proteins, and nutrients. The injured cells then begin repairing themselves, setting the stage for more sophisticated repair techniques to be applied to donor lungs.

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