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Breathing life into injured lungs: World-first technique will expand lung donor organ pool
Date:12/19/2008

(Toronto, Friday, December 19, 2008) For the first time in the world, transplant surgeons at Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network used a new technique to repair an injured donor lung that was unsuitable for transplant, and then successfully transplanted it into a patient. The use of this technique could significantly expand the lung donor organ pool and improve outcomes after transplantation.

In their ground-breaking research, a team of lung transplant surgeons led by Dr. Shaf Keshavjee in the Lung Transplant Program at Toronto General Hospital (TGH) developed an "ex vivo" or outside the body technique capable of continuously perfusing or pumping a bloodless solution containing oxygen, proteins and nutrients into injured donor lungs. This technique, the Toronto XVIVO Lung Perfusion System, allows the surgeons the opportunity to assess and treat injured donor lungs, while they are outside the body, to make them suitable for transplantation.

Unlike current cooling lung preservation techniques which inhibit cell metabolism and the possibility of any active repair processes prior to transplantation, the Toronto technique maintains donor lungs at a normal body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, allowing for future organ repair and gene and cell therapy strategies to be used on them. Although lung perfusion systems have been used in Sweden and England, these systems were blood-based, short-term assessment strategies which were not capable of long-term maintenance or techniques to repair or recondition the lungs.

The Toronto System was used on donor lungs for Andy Dykstra, 56, who received his transplant on December 5, 2008. He had been waiting for a transplant since July 30, 2008, and was told of the clinical trial testing the new system on December 4, 2008. Recalling his difficulty breathing when walking to the front door in his home, Andy said that he waited only two seconds before deciding to be the first patient to re
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Contact: Linda Domenichini
linda.domenichini@uhn.on.ca
41-634-048-006-309
University Health Network
Source:Eurekalert

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