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By Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times

In liver transplantation, the biggest inequity is geographic. When organs become available, they are generally offered first to patients nearby. A big part of the reason is that once a liver is harvested from a cadaver, it remains viable for no more than 12 hours.

As a result, waiting times vary dramatically across the country depending on supply and demand. Liver patients in Los Angeles, for example, typically wait years longer — and become far sicker prior to surgery — than those in northern Florida.

Now a group of Harvard University researchers has come up with a preservation technique that could one day allow livers to be shared more easily around the world.

In a paper published this week in the journal Nature Medicine, the scientists describe an experiment in rats in which livers were preserved for up to four days before transplantation.
Of the 12 rats that received four-day-old livers, seven survived for at least three months. Transplantation after three days worked perfectly: All six rats in that group survived.

In comparison, no rats survived after receiving three- and four-day-old livers preserved in the standard ice-cold solution — a breakthrough in transplantation when it was invented at the University of Wisconsin in 1980.

The new method relies on super-cooling. Livers were stored at minus 6 degrees Celsius in a chemical bath that prevented them from freezing. Freezing destroys delicate cell membranes.
The livers were slowly warmed before surgery.

The experiment marks the first time that a liver has been successfully transplanted after four days of storage — in any species.

But will the technique work in people? The scientists wrote that preserving human livers could require changes to the chemical solution or the protocol of cooling and warming.

One challenge is that human livers are more vulnerable to freezing than rat livers because of their size. There are other differences in liver biology as well.

But if the researchers can make it work, extending preservation time could have profound effects on the transplant system. Livers could be flown around the country or the world where they are needed most, equalizing waiting times and reducing organ shortages in the places with the highest demand and the lowest supply.

More than 15,700 people in the United States are waiting for liver transplants.

Photo: Rusty Clark via Flickr

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Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)