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Northwestern Medicine patient is first in U.S. to receive kidney perfused by new device

A patient at Northwestern Memorial Hospital became the first in the United States to receive a donor kidney that was perfused by the XVIVO Kidney Assist Transport system. The system uses continuous oxygenated perfusion for up to 24 hours to enhance organ preservation, ensuring the patient receives the highest-quality kidney possible. The patient received the perfused kidney on April 30 and is now recovering well at home.

Until now, cold storage – in which an organ is immersed in preservation solution and put on ice – has been the method of preserving and transporting deceased donor kidneys. Many kidneys have been deemed unusable because they were subject to ischemia, a lack of oxygen during the retrieval and transportation process. This new technology uses machine perfusion to circulate an oxygenated solution through the kidney and increase its viability for transplant.

There are currently more than 90,000 patients in the United States on the waitlist for a new kidney, and in 2021 there were approximately 18,700 kidney transplants from deceased donors. The new device has the potential to increase organ utilization and grow the number of successful transplants performed in the United States

“Kidney transplantation is life-changing for patients who live with end-stage kidney disease and who need regular dialysis to survive,” said Daniel Borja-Cacho, MD, transplant surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “The demand for donor kidneys far exceeds the supply, so we are constantly developing and seeking new ways to enhance the viability of available organs. This new device pulses an oxygen-rich preservation solution through the donor kidney, preparing it for the transplant and providing our patient the best-possible outcome.”

While the kidney is cradled in the perfusion device, its oxygen levels, temperature, flow of fluid, and the pressure of the perfusion are controlled. The operating room team collects data about the kidney as it prepares the patient for the transplant.

“Kidney transplantation is such a rewarding surgery because it restores a patient’s freedom,” said Satish Nadig, MD, PhD. “At Northwestern Medicine, we are dedicated to helping patients get the most out of their new organs so they can enjoy long and fulfilling lives. This means delivering the highest-quality organs at the time of transplantation and providing exceptional long-term care after the patient’s surgery. The XVIVO Kidney Assist Transplant device will be a tool that helps our team preserve and monitor kidneys, so they perform optimally after transplantation.”

The Organ Transplant Center at Northwestern Medicine is the longest continual provider of organ transplantation in Chicago. Its physicians have performed nearly 6,500 kidney transplants since the program’s inception in 1964, and 295 patients received kidney transplants in 2021.

For more information about kidney transplantation at Northwestern Medicine, visit Kidney Transplantation at Northwestern Medicine.