34 Lives has saved 10 lives with “unusable” kidneys — and they’re just getting started

Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 7:07pm UTC

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN, June 19, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- New technologies are often referred to as life-changing, but that phrase quite literally describes the work that 34 Lives is doing for those awaiting kidney transplants. The team’s innovative technology “revives” kidneys that might be otherwise rejected for consideration by transplant surgeons.

The team’s tenacious desire to save lives has resulted in ten successful kidney rescues and ten lives saved. And they’re just getting started.

Purdue Research Foundation, the silent engine that supports transformational innovations, provides a sense of belonging through ongoing amenities, facilities and vibrant, intentional communities cultivated for groundbreaking companies like 34 Lives.

34 lives is doing something no other US company is doing today, by extending the safe preservation time for unused kidneys.


More than 120,000 people in the US are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and most of them are waiting for kidneys. When a patient joins the organ transplant waiting list, years can go by before a donor match is found. During this time, patients are often put on a grueling dialysis schedule and can become too sick to receive the transplant or die waiting. On average, 34 US lives are lost, daily.

When the company considered where to plant their flag, West Lafayette just made sense. As Kathleen St. Jean, co-founder and chief commercial officer, succinctly put it, “Purdue: what’s not to like?”

After 34 Lives CEO Chris Jaynes’ son became a Purdue Boilermaker, the team uncovered Purdue’s noncompetitive, neutral environment with robust resources and a vibrant ecosystem. The Purdue Research Park has since served as a key hub for 34 Lives, connecting them with the myriad resources Purdue provides for innovation.

“We believe West Lafayette and the Purdue University ecosystem is the perfect fit for our startup,” said Jaynes. “Not only do we have access to world-class facilities and engineering talent, but we are able to merge our life-saving technology with Purdue’s aviation infrastructure. I can’t think of a better partnership.”


St. Jean notes that getting connected to Purdue resources — and embracing the ethos of sharing such valuable resources — accelerates the work that companies like 34 Lives can do. 34 Lives Chief Scientific Officer Henri Leuvenink even remarked upon his first visit that 34 Lives was able to do in one year what he’d been working on for 21 years thanks to the team’s relentless pursuit of an answer and Purdue’s world-class opportunities.

34 Lives has benefitted immensely from Purdue’s spirit of innovation and collaboration. Purdue undergrads building the Kidney 360 Cooler for their senior project. Life-changing access to Purdue MRI equipment providing vital information to convince surgeons its worthwhile to take on rejuvenated kidneys. Flexible workspaces that can facilitate even the most groundbreaking tech spaces.

For those on the waiting list for a new kidney, embracing such an ethos could mean everything.


30% of kidneys recovered for transplant are discarded before they ever reach a recipient. These losses are not only devastating for those on the waitlist, but also the families who hoped their loved ones could save a life.

“The whole mission around 34 Lives is centered around ensuring donated organs can save a life as it was intended,” said St. Jean. “To ensure we can save lives and honor the wishes of donors, we needed a holistic ecosystem to work from.”

A perfectly placed facility could change everything. That’s what 34 Lives found at Purdue Research Park, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Just minutes from Purdue University, the research park is one of the largest university-affiliated incubation complexes in the country and unites discovery and delivery. The flexibility of space in the research park meant the team could custom-build their own Organ Rescue Labs, two ORs where kidneys are revived and immediately sent out the door for transplant.


The most critical piece of the kidney-saving puzzle is time. For every second that ticks by on the clock, kidneys become less and less viable and surgeons become more and more unwilling to risk a patient’s life.

When kidneys are transported to hospitals on commercial airlines, problems quickly arise. Flights can be delayed or missed. Coolers may be overlooked in cargo areas. Transportation time to distant hospitals can quickly run out the clock—an acceptable “out of body” time is approximately 24 hours.

For 34 Lives, the additional time it would take to transport a kidney from Chicago or Indianapolis airports could mean the difference between the kidney being recoverable or not. In fact, St. Jean confirms that if the team hadn’t had access to Purdue’s regional airport, their fifth successful kidney transplant wouldn’t have happened.

Enter Purdue University Airport (LAF), the regional airport located in the Discovery Park District in West Lafayette, less than five miles from the 34 Lives lab. Echoing the team’s excitement about finding a neutral environment for their critical work, LAF has embraced serving as a neutral, in-the-wild space for the exploration and development of groundbreaking technology, i.e. — “the space between” — where all are welcome to help innovation flourish.

Opportunities for first-class collaboration continue to expand with more high-tech companies taking note. For companies like 34 Lives and their patients, that connected ecosystem is everything.

With every kidney revived and every life saved, 34 Lives brings us closer to a future where no patient dies waiting for a transplant. The partnership with Purdue University exemplifies the power of collaboration and shared purpose, proving that when brilliant minds come together, world-changing solutions can become reality.

About 34 Lives

  • 34 Lives is a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) headquartered in the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette, Indiana. The firm is committed to saving the lives of patients awaiting kidney transplant by providing innovative solutions that can give hard-to-place kidneys a second chance and enough time to make it to a waiting patient.
  • A Central Preservation and Assessment Service to Optimize Donor Kidney Allocation, OPTIMAL, the firm’s research protocol, can be found at ClinicalTrials.gov.  [Identifier NCT06263023]
  • 34 Lives has been funded by the National Kidney Foundation Innovation Fund, Ballad Health, the Niswonger Foundation, and individual investors.

About Purdue Research Foundation 

Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires and sells property; protects and licenses Purdue's intellectual property; and supports creating Purdue-connected startups on behalf of Purdue. The foundation operates Purdue Innovates which includes the Office of Technology Commercialization, Incubator and Ventures. The foundation manages the Purdue Research Park, Discovery Park District, Purdue Technology Centers and Purdue for Life Foundation. 

For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact Purdue Innovates at purdueinnovates@prf.org


Polly Barks
Purdue Research Foundation