Thursday, September 09, 2010

Lung recipient doing well after EXVIVO Lung Perfusion procedure

I'm very pleased to see that Christina Foster is doing well after receiving lungs that have been made viable for transplantation by the Toronto EXVIVO Lung Perfusion System. I spoke with Dr. Shaf Keshavjee (the surgeon that performed my lung transplant in 2002) a couple of weeks ago and at that time 30 patients had already received new lungs that would have previously been unacceptable for transplant. Only about 15% percent of donor lungs turn out to be usable because of some type of defect in the other 85%. The EXVIVO system developed by Dr. Keshavjee and his team at Toronto General Hospital is having a global impact on lung transplantation and has made Canada a world leader in this area.

Researchers used the Toronto XVIVO Lung Perfusion System to continuously pump a bloodless solution of oxygen, proteins and nutrients into injured donor lungs, mimicking normal physiological conditions and warming the lungs to normal body temperatures. This makes it possible for the injured cells to begin repairing themselves, and also sets the stage for gene therapy repair techniques to be applied to donor lungs. Read more at the following posts:

Donated Lungs Breathing Outside Body
Ex-vivo Lung Perfusion
Scientists use gene therapy to repair injured donor lungs


Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario - Christina Foster can breathe a little easier now.

The 32-year-old Saultite has received a new set of lungs and is continuing her rehabilitation at her temporary Toronto-area home.

She's hopes be back home in Sault Ste. Marie for Christmas.

Foster, said she can't believe the difference in the way she feels and the simple things in life that she can do again.

"I'm doing things I haven't done in years, like just walking at a certain pace," she said in a telephone interview.

Foster received her new lungs on Aug. 10 and after a 10-day stay in hospital, was released.

She got a call shortly after midnight on Aug. 10 from hospital officials who said they "might" have a set of lungs for her.

Foster and her husband went to Toronto General, where they waited until 8 a.m. and were told she'd get the lungs.

"We were told that it could always be a false alarm and that often on the first try, it is, so you're prepared," she said.

By 10 a.m. that day, Foster was in surgery, which would last until about 5 p.m.

She was taken off respirators at 2 p.m. the following day, was out of intensive care two days later and home on day 10 of her stay.

"It all happened incredibly fast," she said. "We were told to expect to be in the hospital at least three weeks, likely a month."

Foster was also involved in a study at Toronto General Hospital where they put the lungs into a "cleaner" called the Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion system, which her surgeon helped invent.

That helped clean the lungs and analyze them outside of the donor to prepare them for the transplant.

Foster has been told that without the new cleaning technology, the lungs might not have been suitable for her.

Foster is freed of the oxygen she was on around the clock prior to her surgery. She also doesn't cough anymore.

And her lack of oxygen, even with the help of a machine, often meant she had to travel in a wheelchair -- something that is now being returned to the hospital.

"I'm walking and exercising and my oxygen levels are at 99%," she said.

Foster is still unable to lift anything, including her two-year-old son.

She currently attends physiotherapy sessions three times a week at the hospital in order to rebuild the muscles she lost prior to surgery.

The physio and other routine hospital visits to check her blood and lungs are expected to continue for the next three months.

Foster, who also has no immune system at this time, has to be careful and watch for infections or rejection of the lungs and does routine testing at home.

Foster, a graduate of Sacred Heart Catholic school and St. Mary's College, was born with cystic fibrosis, a multi-organ disease, primarily affecting the lungs and digestive system.

The Central Algoma Secondary School teacher's health had been deteriorating since late last year and her lungs deteriorated to the point where doctors fast-tracked her on the list to receive an organ donation.

Her husband Robert, a teacher at Bawating Collegiate, has taken the semester off work to be with Christina during her recovery.

Foster said she has been very fortunate.

Several fundraising efforts raised about $50,000 to help cover the costs of living in Toronto.

A dinner was held at Riuniti banquet hall last spring and the staff at CASS held an arts night.

As well, a friend, Kathryn Peradis completed a half marathon in the United Kingdom for Foster.

Her sister-in-law Selby Foster and her father, Randy Johnson, are starting a bike-a-thon this Friday from the Sault to St. Catharine's for cystic fibrosis awareness with the proceeds going to the family.

The bike-a-thon is moving ahead with the donation of two bikes, one from Stan Hemphill, the other from Velorution bike shop.

Donations to the fundraiser can be made through the website or on the Facebook site Cough-Up for a Lung.

"Sault Ste. Marie has been amazing to us," Foster said. "It's been very overwhelming and all the support has done a lot to take the pressure off during these hard times," she said.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario at Trillium Gift of Life Network NEW for Ontario: - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! 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
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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