Is there a shortage of organ donors?

Is there a shortage of organ donors?

U.S. Air Force surgeons Dr. Patrick Miller (left), Dr. Michael Hughes (right), and surgical technician SrA Ray Wilson from the 379th Expeditionary Medical Squadron, repair the ruptured achilles tendon of a servicemember on March 11, 2003. The doctors are performing this surgey at a field hospital in a foward-deployed location. (U.S. Air Force photo by SSgt. DERRICK C. GOODE)(RELEASED)

The donor organ shortage remains a major crisis: Can a radical new approach solve it? 

Today in the United States, more than 100,000 patients are on the waiting list to receive a donor organ for transplant. With each passing day, their chance for survival decreases, and 17 people waiting for an organ die every single day. Despite the latest medical advances, many organs that are donated for transplant are not being used because they have minor damage, such as bruising. As a result, the number of organs for transplant remains insufficient. And the disparity is growing. 

Scientists have been working for decades on ways to increase the number of organs for transplant. Recently, bioprinting whole organs from human cells and using organs from genetically modified animals (called ‘xeno-transplantation’) have gained media attention. But a growing number of medical experts agree that ‘machine perfusion systems’ are the most immediate and realistic solution. 

Machine perfusion systems, which circulate nutrients and oxygen, are already routinely used to support donor organs during organ transport and evaluation.

Moreover, could potentially ‘rehabilitate’ injured donor organs outside the body. But there’s a problem: the current machines can’t support isolated organs long enough to resolve minor injuries like bruising.

Enter the visionary team of biomedical engineers and transplant surgeons at Xylyx Bio, Inc. A regenerative medicine company in Brooklyn, New York. They discovered that the key to recovering donor organs is to provide the organ with ‘systemic physiology’, or in other words, the functions of other vital organs. In addition, the pioneering team invented a novel approach that uses a living pig (called ‘xeno-support’). To temporarily provide the systemic physiology that the donor organ needs to rehabilitate. 

Dr. John O’Neill, Xylyx Bio Chief Scientific Officer and Co-founder, explains:

“Regeneration requires complex interactions between different organs, which cannot be reproduced artificially. Xeno-support holds incredible potential to rehabilitate damaged donor organs to meet transplant criteria. And dramatically increase the number of organs available for life-saving transplantation.”
Based on more than 10 years of research and development at Columbia and Vanderbilt University Medical Centers, the team has successfully rehabilitated damaged donor lungs.

Their pre-clinical studies are published in Nature Medicine, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Nature Communications, Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. Furthermore, featured in The New England Journal of Medicine and The New York Times. Now, in collaboration with a team of world-renowned transplant surgeons, the company is ready to conduct groundbreaking transplant studies, a major step toward clinical trials and market approval.

In conclusion, the organ shortage crisis remains dire. But the team at Xylyx Bio has a radical new approach that could offer thousands of patients desperately waiting for a donor organ a new chance at life. Lastly, for more information on this innovative approach, please contact Andrea Nye at

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Is there a shortage of organ donors?