A newly discovered organ transplant technique adopted by a Chinese hospital has garnered widespread attention for its potential in solving the problem of ischemic injury during surgery.

The Ischemia is a condition in which blood flow and oxygen are restricted or reduced in a part of the body, including heart muscle.

However, organs transplant experts from Germany, United States, and World Health Organisation (WHO) were at the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, to observe the liver transplant operation.

Noteworthy is the fact that the Ischemia-free organ transplantation (IFOT) technique was pioneered by Prof. He Xiaoshun, and the technique was used in China’s Guangdong Province during a surgery carried out in December 2023.

Hitherto, in traditional organ transplantation, donor organs are perfused rapidly to obtain them, preserved with ice, transported, and then implanted into the patient, and during the process, the blood supply to the organs is interrupted completely.

This often leads to unavoidable ischemic damage, thus compromising the quality of the organs.

To address this, the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou team in 2016 developed a “multi-organ normothermic perfusion device,” which can simulate the human body to provide blood and nutrition for the donor organ.

It has, for the first time, made the ex vivo multi-organ remain fresh for a long time.

With the help of this device, Xiaoshun’s team successfully carried out the first ischemia-free liver, kidney, and heart transplants in 2017, 2019, and 2021.

Compared with traditional transplantation, the new technique has significantly reduced post-operative complications and improved the utilisation of organs.

“They have shown that the technology is safe and can solve the problems we are facing,” said Bjorn Nashan, former president of the German Transplantation Society, who has been to Guangzhou more than once to observe the surgery.

Optimistic about the future of organ transplantation in China, Nashan moved to China in 2017 to work as director of the organ transplant center at a hospital.

Nashan said he hoped to work with the Chinese team to bring the technology to Germany and other countries in the future.

“Prof. He and his team have demonstrated that they are at the cutting edge in organ transplantation; the technology can be promoted to regions within and outside China through cooperation,” said John Fung, president-elect of the Transplantation Society.

“The innovations and surgical techniques have increased the possibility of utilising more organs, especially those that are not in good condition and that otherwise may have been rejected.

“Thus, maximising the potential of donor organs,”said Efstratios Chatzixiros, adviser on transplantation at the WHO.