Patients on the lung transplant waiting list may soon receive donor lungs that never took a last breath.
Researchers at UCLA are testing a new organ-preservation system that delivers donor lungs while they are still fully functional. So, rather than arriving on ice, the organ is transported in a box, kept warm and pumping from donor to recipient.
"It makes intuitive sense that instead of putting a lung on ice, you want to keep it with the blood circulating, you want to keep it giving oxygen, you want to keep it warm," said Dr. Abbas Ardehali from UCLA.
The high-tech box keeps the lungs warm and perfused with oxygen during transport.
The first "breathing lung" transplant took place at UCLA in November, and the patient has responded so well, that now a worldwide trial is underway, meaning over the next few years, more than two hundred patients in the US, Europe, Canada and Australia will test the living donor device thanks to funding by the manufacturer, trans medics inc.
One of the exciting things about this is, it could really expand the donor pool and ultimately change the way transplants are done since the organs can be kept alive longer and therefore travel longer distances.
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