The program aims to increase the knowledge required to achieve improvements in 1) management of the donor and optimization of donor organ quality, 2) preservation of the organ, 3) reducing early organ damage following implantation (by for example ischemia-reperfusion injury), 4) reducing chronic graft dysfunction, and 5) long-term quality of life. These topics cover all important aspects in the chain of events in solid organ transplantation.
Donation: The increasing 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. GIOT research aims to improve outcome after transplantation of organs from suboptimal donors and promote wider usage of such organs.
Preservation: More 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, which has been further enhanced by integrating this research focus in GIOT.
Short-term effects: Graft reperfusion is a critical part of the chain of events during transplantation. Reperfusion injury may negatively affect organ quality and function, which adds to any pre-existing injuries, especially in ECD organs. Novel strategies to decrease the injurious processes as well as to improve repair processes are examined and developed within GIOT
Long-term effects: 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.