An LSU mechanical engineering professor has been awarded a $432,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study ways to better preserve organs for life-saving donations, according to a university announcement.
Four hours is typically all the time an organ transplant recipient has to fly or drive to where a new organ awaits and for surgery to begin. Professor Ram Devireddy is researching different cooling rates for organs so that they could remain viable longer and possibly even be frozen and transported across the world.
“My research is trying to understand how freezing affects biological systems,” Devireddy says. “We currently don’t have measurement methods to figure out what is happening to tissues when we freeze them fast. This information will tell us how to best store organs.”
According to Devireddy, who mainly studies the liver, the number of organ donors is not the problem; it’s getting the perfect match to the recipient in time. Tissue damage can occur if organs are frozen too fast or too slow, so the trick is to find a cooling time that keeps the tissue viable.
“Different organs require different cooling rates,” Devireddy says. “The liver has similar tissue throughout, whereas the heart has multiple cell types. Each cell is going to behave slightly different under temperature stress. Imagine 100 kids on a bus, and each student must travel at a certain speed to reach home safe and sound, but the bus can only travel at one speed. How do you find a common agreeable speed to minimize the damage to all students on the bus?” Read more from LSU.