Transplantation is a lifesaving therapy for patients suffering from end stage organ failure. The UMCG is the most prominent transplant center in the Netherlands and is the only center licensed to perform all forms of solid organ transplantation.

Transplantation is a multidisciplinary treatment in which specialists work closely together. To ensure optimal outcome, organ-specific knowledge, both physiological and anatomical, is essential.

We integrate experience and knowledge results to better understand the chain of events during transplantation, improvement of translation of basic research to clinical applications.

Relevance

Improve long term quality of life

The impact of an organ transplant on patients is enormous. It not only increases their quality of life, but also their life expectancy. Patients and grafts are both subject to differential ageing processes. Some recipients are living with a donor organ that is much older than the recipient him or herself is. So individual strategies are needed in terms of immunosuppressive drugs, nutrition and lifestyle.

The chain of events in transplantation, can lead to an accumulation of injuries of various origins also results in accelerated ageing of the donor organ. We will increase the knowledge in the entire chain of transplant to:

  • improve management of the donor and optimization of donor organ quality,
  • preserve the organ,
  • reduce early organ damage following implantation, by for example ischemia-reperfusion injury,
  • reduce chronic graft dysfunction, and
  • improve long-term quality of life.
  • The increased need for transplantable organs forces transplant professionals to accept organs from suboptimal donors, so called extended criteria donor or ECD. Preserving or even improving organ quality during the pre-donation phase by evidence-based donor management, donor pre-conditioning, and optimization of retrieval techniques are essential aspects of organ transplantation.

    Our research will improve outcomes after transplantation of organs from suboptimal donors and promote wider usage of such organs.

  • Sophisticated techniques such as cold and normothermic machine preservation will be needed, instead of generally used static cold storage, to improve functional quality of ECD organs. One benefit of normothermic machine preservation is that it allows functional testing and pharmacological conditioning of the organ.

    The UMCG is a world leading institute in the development of methods for preservation of heart, lung, liver, kidney and small bowel.

  • We examine and develop novel strategies to decrease the injurious processes and to improve repair processes. Graft reperfusion is a critical part of the chain of events during transplantation. Reperfusion injury may negatively affect organ quality and function, this adds to any pre-existing injuries, especially in ECD organs.

  • Even after a successful transplantation, there is no guarantee for good long-term function. Various processes may affect organ function and survival, including graft rejection, recurrent disease, and graft fibrosis leading to decline in function. In addition, long after transplantation recipients may suffer from the side effects of immunosuppression. Research in these areas improves long-term graft and patient survival and correspondingly quality of life