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Boosting organ donation success

According to Frédérick D’Aragon, anesthesiologist and critical care physician at CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS and regional medical coordinator for organ donations, better care for patients who suffer neurological death, which is also known as brain death, could increase the number of organs donated and extend the life spans of transplanted organs.

The individuals who experience neurological death while in intensive care are the main organ donors. The current rate of rejection and complications in the days following a transplant remains high, chiefly owing to the irreversible damage caused to the organs prior to the interventions. Considering that, in Québec, some 180 deceased people qualify to donate their organs each year and 799 patients are awaiting a transplant, it is vital to make transplant surgeries as successful as possible.

The current rate of rejection and complications in the days following a transplant remains high.

With this in mind, Dr. d’Aragon created a research platform to assess and document the importance of organ retrieval and transplant practices. To date, 602 critical care patients in 30 health care centres across Canada have been studied.

In addition to these analyses, the researcher focused on a promising approach that relies on immunosuppressants to curb the massive release of cytokines that occurs with brain death. These proinflammatory molecules, whose levels vary from one donor to the next, are what damage the organs.

But when is the right time to administer immunosuppressants? Should they be given in a single dose or continuously?

In search of answers, Frédérick d’Aragon and his engineer, mathematician and biochemist colleagues are now working to develop a device powered by artificial intelligence that will autonomously and automatically inject the medication into patients. The tool will measure the cytokine levels and organ deterioration in real time and automatically administer a personalized treatment based on the data collected and characteristics of the patient.

The researchers plan to lead a randomized trial to test the immunosuppressants against a placebo in 70 Canadian donors and then determine the winning practices.