Refurbished Organs Are A Possible Solution for People Needing Transplants

When it comes to patients needing individuals to donate organs, the sad news is there is usually a long list of people in need and, depending on the organ, patients can end up have their condition worsen or eventually dying.  However, last month revealed a possible way that could remedy this situation, or at least provide another option for patients.  The possible alternative to those in need of an organ transplant would be in acquiring refurbished organs.


Several weeks ago, writer Erin Winick posted an interesting article that focuses on the issue of organ transplants.  Apparently, there is a surgeon who feels that the unusual method’s in his lab has the possibility to solve someday the current crisis going on regarding organ-transplants.  According to the American Transplant Foundation, an average of twenty individuals die every day in the United States awaiting organs from donors to use in transplants; therefore, if the surgeon’s idea comes to fruition, it could possibly eliminate any need for a waiting list for organs.

Harvard Medical School Surgeon’s Vision for Organ Transplants


The surgeon behind the so-called refurbished organs is Harald Ott, who is a surgeon at Harvard Medical school.  The process involves the lab that he is working in to treat organs chemically from pigs and rats to take out all their cells; this leaves behind a barren scaffolding.  Then researchers will populate stems cells taken from the patient into the scaffolding; the hope is to build an organ in which the individual’s body will tolerate.

Recent work shows how the lab applies a technique that Ott helped to create known as lung regeneration; this is a transformation of lungs taken from pigs and rats into compatible ones that humans can accept.  Unfortunately, lungs taken from rats are not suitable for transplanting into a human; yet, they allow an excellent means for testing the procedure of regeneration.  Sarah Gilpin, a researcher in Ott’s lab, said that I feel something we all share here is the belief this really could work.


The Origin Behind This Technique

Interestingly, the technique that Ott developed started years ago while studying at the University of Minnesota, where he was looking into creating a heart. Fast forward a decade later and his lab was able to make big strides in comprehending the type of conditions in which stem cells can transform into organs that function.

The team, up to now, have succeed in transplanting organs that were re-created using human stem cells back into rats and pigs.  However, they are only able to survive a week, given that the human cells within the organs are foreign to the animals.  Nevertheless, the experiments have produced enough evidence that organs of these types can function within a living organism.

Though this technique cannot help patients who are presently on an organ donor list, the results of Ott’s experiments are promising.  The day could come where refurbished organs would be the solution those individuals anxiously waiting on a donor list for a new chance at life.