Scientists have successfully managed to change the blood type of donor kidneys, a development that could save thousands of lives each year. The number of people globally who die every year while waiting to get a life-saving kidney transplant easily runs in the tens-of-thousands. Donor kidneys have to match the recipient’s blood type, which is a problem for people with less common blood types. But scientists at University of Cambridge in the UK announce that they have had a breakthrough that could increase the supply of donor kidneys available for transplant.
Using a special machine, the scientists were able to pass oxygenated blood infused with an enzyme through the donor kidney, removing blood type markers and converting the kidney to the O blood type, which is sometimes called the “universal blood type,” because anyone can receive it, regardless of blood type.
The study is still early-stage, but the researchers are excited by the potential of the process. The next step will be to run clinical trials on patients.