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Research & Innovation, Family Health

Saving Organs, Saving Lives: Potential Solutions to the Organ Transplant Problem

March 8, 2022

Yale researchers look to make use of ‘marginal’ organs.
Poster for video

There are more than 90,000 patients on the kidney transplant waitlist in the United States, but fewer than 23,000 kidney transplants occurred in 2020. 

“The disparity between the number of people waiting for an organ and the number of organs available is significant,” says Yale Medicine transplant surgeon Dani Haakinson, MD.

Despite the great need, some donated organs are considered unsuitable for transplantation. “Compared to 20 years ago, deceased organs now come from donors who are older, who have more comorbidities, or other diseases,” says David Mulligan, MD, Yale Medicine’s chief of transplant surgery and immunology. Using these “marginal” organs could lead to increased health risks post-transplant.

But what if marginal organs could be made healthy enough for transplantation? That’s the goal behind the research collaboration between Dr. Haakinson; Gregory Tietjen, PhD, associate professor of transplantation and immunology; and Jenna DiRito, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at Yale. Together, they are studying human organs that are declined for transplantation and developing new therapeutic and diagnostic innovations to repair them. 

This video highlights their groundbreaking research aimed at expanding the pool of available organs to save the lives of patients on waiting lists.