Use of 10p Statins in Organ Donation ‘Could Save Thousands of Lives’ | Organ donation

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Thousands of lives could be saved around the world by giving patients a 10p statin before transplants, doctors have said as the NHS launches the world’s largest clinical trial in organ donors.

The medical breakthrough is expected to dramatically increase the supply of organs for transplantation. Currently, the demand for organs greatly exceeds the number available. Every year thousands of people die while waiting for a transplant, hundreds of them in Britain.

Many potential organs for donation, especially the heart and lungs, are damaged. Removing the organ and reattaching it to the recipient can worsen the damage. As a result, thousands of donated organs can never be used. Three quarters of the cores offered cannot be used because they are damaged or do not perform well.

Today, leading doctors, surgeons and researchers say that giving all donors a statin before their organs are harvested could reduce inflammation and minimize or even reverse this damage. The pioneering act could be of real clinical benefit for organ recipients, greatly increasing their chances of survival.

In a world first, organ donors in the UK involved in a groundbreaking trial are prescribed a single dose of simvastatin hours before their organs are harvested. The procedure costs only 10 pence and takes only 30 seconds but is expected to revolutionize organ donation.

The world’s largest randomized controlled trial in organ donors begins this week and could lead to the systematic use of statins to increase the number of transplants performed and their success rate. In the UK alone, more than 7,000 patients are awaiting organ transplants.

The pandemic is likely to increase needs. Critically ill patients can sustain lasting lung damage, and other patients scheduled for transplants in the past 18 months have had their surgeries canceled.

Professor John Dark, a leading organ donation expert and lead investigator of the trial, said he hopes giving statins to organ donors becomes the norm.

Cholesterol lowering drugs are already one of the most popular drugs in the world. “What we hope is that this study will affect practice around the world and result in every organ donor receiving a statin… with potentially thousands of lives saved,” Dark said.

The Signet trial will recruit 2,600 organ donors after their brainstem death is declared, using a method called donation after brainstem death (DBD). They will be enrolled in 80 hospitals across the UK over the next four years.

Dark, a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Newcastle University and a former heart and lung surgeon who has performed more than 500 transplants, said his team will seek to confirm the benefits statins may have on organs, including the heart, lungs, pancreas, liver and kidneys.

“We expect better quality organs to come from donors who have been treated with simvastatin. A previous, smaller study in Finland showed this to be clearly the case with the heart and hinted at improvements in the quality of the lungs and liver as well.

“Interestingly, in lung donation, recipients who obtained organs from donors treated with simvastatin showed half the level of primary graft dysfunction, which measures organ damage,” Dark said. . “What we hope to do in the future is to integrate statins into standard treatment for organ donors, and then explore other drugs that may continue to improve the condition of donated organs.”

In the trial, half of willing donors will receive a statin in addition to their standard donor care. The drug is given through a tube entering the stomach, which is already present in most donors. The drug will be administered as soon as the family has consented to the organ donation and the involvement of their loved one in the research. Half of all recipients will then receive an organ from a donor who received the statin.

Lyndsey Fitzpatrick, who has been waiting for a heart transplant for five years, praised the trial. “It’s wonderful to hear that more and more research is being done to improve the quality of donated organs and hopefully more hearts will be available for transplantation,” she said. declared.

The 36-year-old woman, from Neston on the Wirral, was born with a heart defect and had her first operation when she was six weeks old. She had open heart surgery at age three and has needed pacemakers since she was 10 years old.

“I’m still waiting for that very important phone call to say that a match has been found for me and that I can start the next chapter of my life,” she said. “I hope this study, and more in the future, will mean that people like me don’t have to wait that long for a transplant because there will be more organs available to save more lives.”

The NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) will help conduct research with the help of organ donation nurses, who support families giving consent at the end of life. These nurses will have spent months training to participate in the trial.

“The importance of nurses specializing in organ donation cannot be underestimated,” said Dr. Dan Harvey, co-principal investigator of the study. “They do an incredible job supporting families through one of the most difficult times in their lives during the organ donation process. Understanding and support from the family is essential to the success of the trial.

The study is supported by a £ 1.3million grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It is run by the NHSBT’s Clinical Trials Unit in Cambridge and sponsored by the NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Professor Paul Dark, NIHR’s national specialty leader for critical care, said the trial was vital. “Previous studies have shown that statins can reduce inflammation and improve organ quality,” he said. “This new study is critical research that we hope will show major benefits for the donor-recipient.”


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