Cooling an organ donor’s body after death might improve kidney function in transplant recipients.
Scientists compared the function of kidneys from 150 organ donors whose bodies were cooled to between 34˚ and 35˚ Celsius (93.2˚ to 95˚ Fahrenheit), and those from 152 donors whose bodies were kept warm at between 36.5˚ and 37.5˚ C (97.7˚ to 99.5˚ F). Doctors kept the bodies at those temperatures from the time a doctor declared the organ donor dead until the donor’s organs were recovered. About 39 percent of the patients receiving kidneys from the donors whose bodies were kept warm experienced delayed function in their new kidneys, with the transplanted organs failing to work right away. These patients required dialysis within a week of their surgery. But only 28.2 percent of the patients who got kidneys from a slightly cooled donor had delayed function in their transplants, researchers report July 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The results could lead to more successful kidney transplants from deceased donors, which could benefit the over 100,000 patients currently on the waiting list for a kidney transplant in the United States.