A new method of preserving donated kidneys could offer hope and the “gift of time” to save the organ from being discarded, a charity has revealed.

Kidney Research UK said that about 100 kidneys could potentially be saved for transplant each year after being retrieved from donors. The kidney transplant waiting list of 5,000 could be reduced through this new method, experts said.

Based on three years of data from NHS Blood and Transplant, the charity determined how many kidneys were considered clinically unsuitable for use.

The researchers believe their methods could be adopted within the next three years, directly addressing some of the logistical and operational issues across many NHS transplant settings.

Current guidelines advise that perfusion should only be used to test the function of the kidney, ideally for less than three hours before the procedure causes injury to the organ.

However, in an experimental setting, the team have developed a new protocol using ethically sourced pig kidneys, without evidence of injury at 24 hours.

Sandra Currie, chief executive of Kidney Research UK, said: “Patients wait on average over a year and a half for a kidney transplant, some wait much longer

The research uses a method, called normothermic perfusion, in which oxygenated blood is pumped through a kidney to simulate the flow of blood within an organ.