Centralizing organ removal may benefit transplants

Transplant medicine could be on the cusp of a new way to accomplish a critical task -- efficiently getting the organ from the donor and into the recipient.

An experiment in the Midwest suggests bringing the donors to the doctors is better than the decades old method of surgeons traveling to far-off hospitals and rushing back to transplant harvested organs.

A study out today reports on liver transplants from the nation's first free-standing organ retrieval center. Nearly all organ donors now are transported to Mid-America Transplant Services in St. Louis from a region including parts of Missouri, Illinois and Arkansas.

The study finds the centralization saves money and that the livers spend less time outside the donor's body, which in theory improves the odds of success.

Transplant experts say this could become a new standard, and groups in several areas are exploring it.

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