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Kellner, C.
Effects of reduced pressure on organ quality in airborne organ transport Flights without pressurized cabins
Humanmedizin; [ Diplomarbeit ] Graz Medical University; 2021. pp. 52 [OPEN ACCESS]


Authors Med Uni Graz:
Leber Bettina
Stiegler Philipp

Background: In the 19th century, scientists, doctors and natural scientists discovered that it was possible to transplant a human organ. Since then, constant attempts have been made to improve and optimise the way of transplanting a human organ. The transplantation of one or more organs is the therapy of choice for a variety of diseases. The demand for transplantable organs is constantly rising, while the supply in contrast to the supply. The task of making the best possible use of each individual organ, adhering to guidelines and timescales, achieving a good outcome and paying close attention to ethical principles are important cornerstones to guarantee successful transplantations. Other vital aspects comprise the costs due for personnel, packaging and transport, physical influences on the organ and the medical challenges. For more time-critical organs, such as the heart, lungs and liver, air transport is often chosen in order to guarantee the shortest possible ischaemic period. In this case, medical benefits contrast accruing costs. Methods and study: Information upon the potentially negative influence of the lack of pressure equalisation from smaller aircrafts without pressurised cabins on the life-saving organs is scarce in literature. In order to evaluate the possible changes to organs during a flight in a non-pressurised aircraft, experiments were conducted in a study on porcine organs. In this study, three flights, under approximately the same conditions, were conducted with a small training aircraft. During each flight, organs (heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and kidneys) were packed in a manner compliant with the law and with regulations on board. A tissue sample was taken from each organ before and after transport and subsequently examined histologically. Results: A time limit of a maximum of two hours for the transport of the organs was observed. The organ quality before and after the flight was compared and no macroscopic or histological changes were detected. Discussion: Despite the importance of transplantation medicine, economic aspects cannot be ignored. In order to minimise the costs of an organ transport flight, various options are available. One possible approach is the use of smaller, non-pressure balanced airplanes for organ transport, thus reducing the transport costs.

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