On Tuesday November 25th the third Expert Meeting on Liver perfusion was organized in Groningen, The Netherlands. The meeting was hosted by the Groningen Transplant center of the University Medical Center Groningen and sponsored by Bridge to Life and Organ Assist.
Chair of the meeting, prof.dr. Robert Porte, welcomed more than 70 participants representing 13 countries, all of which with a particular interest in using Organ Assist’s Liver Assist system in their liver transplant programs. The program consisted of a theoretical and clinical applications section in the morning, followed by technical lectures and hands-on demonstrations of the Liver Assist in the afternoon. The plenary lectures given by true experts in the field were clustered per clinical application, detailing protocols and clinical results using Liver Assist ranging from hypothermic to normothermic liver perfusion.
The end-ischemic HOPE protocol and clinical results on more than 37 liver transplants were presented by the groups of Zurich and Groningen, advocating the benefits of hypothermic oxygenated perfusion (safety, ease-of-use). Combined efforts of these and partnering centers resulted in the HOPE protocol being subject to two RCT’s in DBD and DCD liver transplantation coming year.
The Essen-group presented their results on the first 6 liver transplants after gradual controlled oxygenated rewarming following CS. Slow rewarming from hypothermia to sub-normothermia showed improved results after transplantation. The beneficial effects of sub-normothermia were also demonstrated and presented by the Boston-group, who used Liver Assist to perfuse still discarded livers at room temperature.
Raising the bar and temperature even higher, normothermic liver perfusion even enables viability assessment of liver function, an effect demonstrated by the Birmingham-group. They were able to test-drive a liver discarded for transplantation, judged it was viable after all and were the world’s first to transplant a formerly discarded liver. Despite these successful stories, the Cambridge-group reasoned that in DCD liver donation efforts to secure an acceptable quality begin already in the donor. They presented their exciting and promising results using normothermic regional perfusion using ECOPS. It might well be that especially the combination of regional perfusion in the donor and machine perfusion (and viability assessment) of the isolated organ transplantation will be an enormous step forward in reaching optimal liver quality and could drastically increase the number of transplantations.
The Expert Meeting on Liver Perfusion continued with detailed discussions on clinical protocols and live demonstrations of the Liver Assist and ECOPS. The very successful and informative day with very high-quality lectures was closed with good food and drinks while RCT partnerships were still being constructed.