Using new technology to meet organ shortage

Made-in-Alberta devices promise to improve quantity and quality of donated organs

Shelby Soke and Michael Brown - 13 October 2017

Technology developed and being commercialized by University of Alberta medical researchers may solve two of the biggest problems in organ transplantation―the limited number of healthy organs available and the short window of time to get a donated organ to a patient.

The Ex-Vivo Organ Support System (EVOSS™) was developed by surgery professors Darren Freed and Jayan Nagendran. It uses negative pressure ventilation in a portable organ perfusion device to replicate the way our chest cavity expands and contracts with each breath. It ensures a constant supply of blood and oxygen to the donated lungs, keeping them warm at a level similar to the temperature inside the body, until they are transplanted.

A promising future, one organ at a time

TEC Edmonton gives entrepreneurs resources to bring ideas to market

The Ex-Vivo Organ Support System could potentially save thousands of lives. And yet, were it not for U of A-led business accelerator TEC Edmonton, the idea for the product may have remained just that: an idea.

TEC Edmonton, a joint venture of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and the U of A, helps technology entrepreneurs accelerate the growth of their projects and acts as a commercialization agent for U of A technologies.

Health City, Edmonton, Canada

During his 2016 State of the City address, Mayor Don Iveson announced the launch of the Health City Initiative, bringing together business, health, academia, government, community and not-for-profit leaders to drive health innovation and industry in Edmonton, and advance the city's health ecosystem. See the plan at

Currently, after removal from the donor, a donated organ is stored and transported on ice with only a six-hour window before it's no longer viable. But this new Alberta-made device buys more time for an organ to be assessed, repaired and transported, giving it the potential to double or even triple the number of available donor organs worldwide.

Edmonton's geography stimulates invention

Freed and Nagendran―who together founded Tevosol, Inc., a U of A spinoff company to commercialize their product-expect to start a clinical trial of their lung perfusion device soon.

"Not only is it an opportunity to improve the quality of donor organs around the world, but it's an Alberta-specific problem that we are addressing as we are frequently facing difficulties because an organ has been out of the body for a long time, in spite of trying to get it here as soon as possible," said Nagendran.

The University of Alberta Hospital has the largest geographic service area in the world for a single transplant centre, covering more than six million square kilometres.

"It's one of the reasons why innovation is at the heart of what we do in Edmonton," said Nagendran.