Breakthrough Technology In The Realm Of Organ Donations
Research and Innovations While some health technology news requires a little imagination to get excited about, the recent development of a device that can “wash” antibodies from blood, allowing organ transplants between donors and recipients with different blood types, is immediately amazing.
But it’s more than just a technical wonder: The device carries incredible implications for the future of kidney donations in Canada.
The transplant process is long and often paved with obstacles. Most transplants have to meet a rigorous set of criteria matching the donor to the recipient, with blood type being one of the most important.
Currently, one third of all potential donors are rejected because of blood incompatibility, meaning that their blood types are not compatible, or the person requiring the organ has antibodies in his or her blood that will reject the donor’s organ.
By removing antibodies from the blood that cause organ rejection, this new medical device is making transplants possible between non-matching donor-recipient pairs.
As a procedure, the device is added to a plasmapheresis machine, which separates a patient’s plasma from their blood. The plasma is then run through the column-shaped device that contains synthetic carbohydrate beads, which traps blood type antibodies, removing only the anti-A or anti-B antibodies. The “washed” plasma is then returned to the patient’s body.
Nearly 80 percent of the 4,500 Canadians on the waiting list for an organ transplantation are waiting for a kidney. According to Dr. Jeffrey Zaltzman, Director of Renal Transplants, Medicine and Nephrology at St. Michael’s Hospital, the new procedure could significantly increase the number of living organ donors.
“Every time you have a living donor, you’re helping someone who would otherwise be on a transplant waiting list for a long time.”
“Every time you have a living donor, you’re helping someone who would otherwise be on a transplant waiting list for a long time,” Dr. Zaltzman said. “That’s also one more person who is not taking an organ from a deceased donor, which could then be given to someone else.”