Lung Transplants Are Happening Outside the Body

Ex vivo lung transplants were performed in New York

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Lungs belong in the body, right? A new technique to prepare donor lungs for transplant could not only improve transplant success but can also increase the number of available lungs.

The first two ex vivo, outside-the-body, lung transplants in New York were performed by Dr. Frank D'Ovidio at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

These two surgeries were also among the first in the United States. This form of lung transplant could help predict transplant success and the number of lungs available for transplants.

"Ask your doctor about enrolling in lung transplant clinical trials.

The ex vivo lung transplant uses donor lungs from deceased individuals. Lungs are placed in a dome, conditioned and infused with nutrients and antibiotics for four hours. The lungs are then inflated and deflated, to mimic breathing. Once doctors feel the lungs are ready, the lungs are transplanted into the patient.

This process gives doctors a better understanding of how the lungs will function within the donor according to Dr. D'Ovidio, associate surgical director of the lung transplant program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and assistant professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Lungs can be monitored and tested to make sure they are functioning normally.

In the future, the ex vivo procedure can help restore and repair donor lungs. Currently less than 30 percent of donor lungs can be used. If doctors can monitor and evaluate lungs outside of the body they can possibly repair problems and restore lung function.

Dr. D'Ovidio says this can possibly double the number of available lungs.

The ex vivo lung transplant procedure is currently being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of a clinical research trial in various hospitals. More testing is needed before the ex vivo procedure can be used in the general population.

This report was published by the New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

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Review Date: 
December 14, 2011
Last Updated:
December 15, 2011