23. How are donated organs preserved and transported?

During the donation surgery, just prior to removal of the donated organs, an ice cold preservative solution is flushed into each of the organ. This starts the process of preserving the donated organs. Sterile ice is also placed in the body cavities to aid in the cooling. Once the organs are removed from the donor's body, they are packed in several layers of sterile containers and further cooled when these sterile containers are surrounded with an icy slush mixture. The goal is to cool but not freeze the organs.

Commonly used preservation solutions include ViaSpan (University of Wisconsin) Solution and Eurocollins solution, Custodial, and others.

All organs except kidneys are stored using simple hypothermia, in other words they're just kept cold in the preservative solution. Kidneys may be placed on a machine that continuously pumps preservation solution through them. This machine, known as a pulsatile perfusion device, may allow transplant surgeons to better assess the suitability of some questionably transplantable kidneys. Work to develop methods of perfusing other organs, including the liver, the lungs, and the heart is ongoing.

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