Understanding the Study: Hypothermia and Saving Lives

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that keeping organ donors just 2 degrees below their normal body temperature (mild hypothermia) provided protection to donated kidneys – which resulted in improved initial function of the kidneys after they were transplanted. After the transplant, there were fewer kidneys in the mild hypothermia group that did not function well initially; in this group, fewer resulted in delayed kidney graft function, which necessitates longer hospital stays and higher costs.  

LifeGift has agreed to participate in a second phase of this study to determine if mild hypothermia is as protective as placing the kidneys on a “pump” after they are recovered from the donor. If mild hypothermia proves to be equally as protective or more protective than “pumping kidneys,” this will not only be beneficial for the patients receiving these kidneys, by improving initial function and avoiding delayed graft function after the transplant, but will also substantially lower costs related to kidney profusion by no longer having to depend on kidney pumping.  

In 2017, there were 1,328 kidney transplants performed in Texas. As of today, more than 9,000 Texans are waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant – and mild hypothermia may prove helpful. Pending learnings from the study, patients who are receiving kidney transplants may have an improved chance at recovery, and LifeGift could improve efficiency and effectiveness in kidney transplantation.

“As an organization, we have the opportunity to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. We will only succeed if we work together to make the study successful,” says Dr. Wood, LifeGift vice president and chief medical officer, and Monique Ferguson, research coordinator. 

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