Monday, January 05, 2009

New transplant hope as lung is 'repaired' and given to patient

Chest X-ray

X-Ray: Doctors have for the first time repaired an injured donor lung and transplanted it into a patient

I attended the press conference at Toronto General Hospital announcing this scientific breakthrough that will have a global impact on organ transplantation. It was also my pleasure to be taken for a tour of the labs to see these experiments first hand and I'm still in awe of the amazing advances that Dr. Shaf Keshavjee and his lung transplant team have achieved. See my blog post for more details and photos. Merv.


Surgeons have for the first time repaired an injured donor lung and transplanted it into a patient.

The lung did not meet strict quality standards and would normally have been discarded. But, using a new technique, doctors kept it ‘alive’ and repaired it with a combination of drugs and stem cells.

Lungs are usually removed from patients who die of brain injuries. But because the brain releases inflammatory enzymes when it shuts down, only about 15 per cent are viable for transplant.

These healthy organs are then cooled and are usable for about six to eight hours.

Under the new procedure, the lungs are transferred to a protective chamber and connected to ventilators and filters, which allow an oxygen-carrying solution to flow through them.

The temperature of the lungs is increased over 30 minutes until it reaches 37C (99F), at which point they can be preserved for between 12 and 18 hours, allowing doctors to assess the quality of the organ and treat it accordingly.

The lungs also partially use their own regenerative powers to heal in the same way they would inside the body.

The system was developed in Toronto, Canada. Lead researcher Shaf Keshavjee said: ‘This will be a significant improvement in the utilisation, and quality of organs.

'It has applications for all organs, and transplantation will become more like blood banks, with organs tested and then stored.’

The technique has been successfully used in four transplants.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

I wish everyone all the best for 2009

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