Lung preservation technique keeps lungs alive for longer

Wednesday, 23 Nov 2016



A new lung preservation technique can double the amount of time donor lungs can be preserved outside of the body without jeopardising recipient outcomes, a Lancet Respiratory study shows.

The generally accepted maximum time from when an organ is removed from the donor, cooled, and then transplanted into the recipient is 6 to 8 hours. However the new approach that combines cold preservation with ex-vivo lung perfusion extends this time to 12 hours.

Using the technique, which involves continuously perfusing a bloodless solution containing oxygen, proteins, and nutrients into donor lungs, researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada found that patients who received a donor lung preserved for more than 12 hours had similar survival at one year post transplant to those who received lungs preserved for less than 12 hours.

Although the lungs in the 12 hour group were higher-risk, the average length of time recipients spent in the intensive care unit and in hospital post-transplant were similar in both groups.

“It is important to remember that the lungs preserved for more than 12 hours using EVLP started out as more injured lungs.

In fact, many of them might have been turned down for transplantation in the past. That they performed similar to conventional lungs with shorter preservation times suggests EVLP provides additional benefit over cold preservation”, said first author Dr Jonathan Yeung, also from Toronto General Hospital.

The authors say the new approach could increase the availability of donor organs by reducing geographical limitations on donors and recipients.

Here’s a Podcast interview with the lead author Dr Marcelo Cypel

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