In 1965, Duke University Hospital was the first in North Carolina to offer liver transplants, and with the help of a new machine, the hospital could lead the way into another breakthrough in transplantable organs.
Now, Duke is consistently recognized among the nation's most successful programs and was recently recognized for the best results in the country.
Don Smith is one of the patients who received a liver transplant at Duke. He has to take pills every day to stay healthy, but he says the transplant was worth it.
"I have to do this every day, but it's just a small sacrifice to having a good healthy life," Smith said.
Dr. Debra Sudan is the division chief for Duke's transplant program. She hopes to improve on the program's results with a new trial through Organ-ox, a company based in England.
Organ-ox is testing a machine that could increase the number of organs that can be transplanted.
"We're anticipating that this could really decrease the amount of damage that is caused by cold storage and increase the number of livers that might be transplantable that don't otherwise do very well with cold storage," Sudan said.
Duke has been a pioneer in solid organ transplantation since starting the country's first kidney transplant program 31 years ago.
In addition to liver, heart, lung and small bowel transplants, last year, Duke became one of the few to offer hand transplants.
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