Team Consulting helps develop world’s first autonomous liver preservation system

Cambridge based product design consultancy Team Consulting has worked with Oxford University company OrganOx to develop a device which could double the amount of human livers available for transplant its makers claim.

OrganOx Metra designed and engineered by Team Consulting
OrganOx Metra designed and engineered by Team Consulting

Two successful transplants have taken place in clinical trials using the OrganOx Metra machine – the world’s first autonomous liver preservation system.

Livers can be ‘kept alive’ outside the human body prior to transplantation using the system, which has been devised by OrganOx and brought out of the lab environment and developed into a transportable form by Team Consulting.

Team Consulting worked on electro-mechanical systems engineering, coding and touch-screen interface design for the device.

OrganOx Metra designed and engineered by Team Consulting
The oxygenator acts as lungs

OrganOx Limited chief executive Dr Les Russell says, ‘In Europe and the US, around 13,000 liver transplants are undertaken each year. However, there is a combined waiting list of around 30,000 patients and up to 25 per cent of these patients die while awaiting transplantation.

‘Meanwhile, over 2,000 livers are discarded annually because they are either damaged by oxygen deprivation or do not survive cold preservation due to elevated intracellular fat.’

Team Consulting was appointed by OrganOx in 2009, which had developed a lab-based clinician dependent system. 

The new autonomous, transportable and commercially viable system maintains the organ in a fully functioning state during transport and storage by providing blood flow, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients and temperature control.

OrganOx Metra designed and engineered by Team Consulting
The pump acts as a heart

The ‘body mimicking system’ monitors changeable factors including bile production, allowing the liver to be stored for up to 24 hours and gives surgeons real time and cumulative data on the state of the organ to assess function and viability.

In current clinical practice livers are retrieved, flushed with a preservation solution, packed on ice and rushed between the donor hospital and transplant centre.

Team Consulting has developed ‘safety critical architecture’ which ensures that if a system component fails, the core system will continue to function, avoiding damage to the liver.

OrganOx Metra designed and engineered by Team Consulting
The complex system has been simplified to a single control dial

Usability studies conducted with all stakeholders to understand how the system will be used has ensured suitability for commercial use according to Team Consulting. The group has designed a disposable set of 400 tubes and connectors for conveying blood, all mounted on one disposable cartridge to ensure that set up can be completed in minutes.

Team Consulting head of electro-mechanical engineering Stuart Kay says, ‘We have designed the safety critical system to be robust, reliable and simple to use. Using the combination of all of our key skills we have delivered a final product that meets some very demanding requirements. 

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