Device offers hope to those on transplant waiting list

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

khou.com

Posted on October 29, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 9:01 AM

AUSTIN, Texas -- The wait for transplant patients can be agonizingly long and sometimes even fatal. The problem? Not every donor is a perfect match to the patient.

New technology is hoping to change that and finally solve this difficult medical dilemma. If it works any organ could be suited for any body.

Pat Buchta is a creative services producer at KVUE. He's 43 and healthy, but that certainly wasn't the case a year and a half ago.

"I was just hours away from death," he said.

In 1995 doctors diagnosed Buchta with a rare liver disease.

"Ultimately you just accept your fate. Whatever it's going to be," said Buchta.

After spending years on the transplant list, his kidneys started to fail. Doctors had told him he had about six hours to live when they got a liver his body would accept.

"It is horrifying when you're in that situation. Where you don't know whether you're going to get that organ in time," said Buchta.

The main problem is finding the correct tissue match between donor and recipient.

"The body's natural immune system is geared to reject or to kill cells that are infected by viruses or infectious disease," said CEO of Emergent Technologies Tommy Harlan.

Unfortunately our immune system attacks most donor organs the same way. The ARC Antibody Removal System developed by Austin-based Emergent Technologies may be the answer doctors and transplant patients have been looking for.  

The ARC device can fit in your hand. What makes it so groundbreaking is that as the blood goes through the device, it doesn't eliminate all of the antibodies. It eliminates only those that will prevent a successful transplant. The process is similar to undergoing dialysis.

"The beauty of this device is it's going to [allow] husbands and wives and loved ones who want to donate to donate," said Vice President of Emergent Technologies Dr. Gina Lento, Ph.D. "They're not genetically related so the chance that they do match are a lot lower. Now with this device they can, just as if they were perfectly matched."

Buchta says for patients on the transplant list, the device offers what nothing else can: Hope.

"Just to be given that chance," he said. "Obviously for the health aspects of not having to die, but also for the psychological aspect of just having that chance -- having hope."
 
The device could be available for clinical trial as soon as three years. Learn more about the Any Donor Any Body device here.

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