If you’ve ever watched a hospital drama such as Casualty or ER, the words “liver transplant” are likely to conjure up an image of an organ being rushed to its intended recipient on the back of a motorbike. So far, so Deliveroo. But the Oxford-based medtech company OrganOx has developed a groundbreaking device that is changing the face of liver transplantation, by enabling organs to be stored at normal body temperatures for extended periods of time.
The metra is predicted to increase dramatically the number of livers that can be safely used in transplants, through tripling the storage time of organs and enabling a road test of each one before it is used. OrganOx’s liver perfusion machines were approved by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in January 2019, with the technology hailed as a “game-changer” by industry experts; national news coverage included a number of features on the BBC.
Growth capital drives commercial success
OrganOx, founded in 2008, applied to BOOST&Co for a growth capital loan to scale up its business and expand internationally, with the aim of entering new markets to drive adoption of the metra. In October 2018, BOOST&Co lent the company £3m, funding that has enabled the firm to realise the potential of its technology worldwide.
Revenues have increased by around 100% during the past 12 months, and the device has now been used to complete more than 500 transplants in 11 countries. Around 30,000 liver transplants are currently performed worldwide each year.
The metra carries out normothermic liver perfusion – a procedure that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the organ, preserving it for an extended period of time – for 24 hours, twice as long as rival machines. The Viability Testing and Transplantation of Marginal Livers study found that 70% of organs that would otherwise have been discarded could be used, thanks to the device.
Venture debt makes vision a reality
Robin Abeyesinhe, OrganOx’s finance director, believes that venture debt was the right option for the company, at the right time. He says: “BOOST&Co’s partner Sonia Powar and her team moved quickly to gain an understanding of OrganOx’s business model and its funding needs, and to tailor an appropriate package for us. The overall speed of response and execution was impressive.”
“We invest in a business when we believe in the management team and its vision for the future,” Powar says. “OrganOx ticks all of those boxes, so we’re excited to join the company on its growth journey in the coming years.”
So the next time your favourite medical drama features a mad dash to deliver an organ for transplant, bear in mind that, thanks to OrganOx, a real-life courier is much more likely to be handling your Saturday night takeaway. As the groundbreaking metra continues to make an impact across the globe, the firm is saving lives by aiming to make every donated organ count.