Surgeons Check Out Donor Lungs 'Ex Vivo' Prior To Transplant

Ex vivo lung transplant: image via (University of Maryland Medical CenterEx vivo lung transplant: image via (University of Maryland Medical CenterSurgeons at the New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University performed the very first 'ex vivo' lung transplants yesterday, placing a deceased donor's lungs into a test dome for four hours to get the lungs in shape for their new human recipients.  Organ testing procedures have been available prior to now, but none as sophisticated as the XVIVA Perfusion System employed in these particular transplant surgeries.

Dr. Frank D'Ovidio and his surgical team were able to observe the donors lungs inflate and deflate as both a cardiopulmonary pump and ventilator attached to their dome allowed the lungs to 'breathe.'  The lungs were also infused with nutrients and antibiotics and warmed to body temperature during the four hour period.

Once the lungs were determined to be viable, they were transplanted into expectant recipients, two women, one 59 and the other 60 years old.

"Assessing lungs this way gives us a much more precise picture of how they should perform after transplant, and the reconditioning process may actually improve the chances of success," said Dr. D'Ovidio, associate surgical director of the lung transplant program at the New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. 

"Now with the ex vivo method, not only can we see the lungs inflate and deflate, but we also get hard data on how they function by monitoring multiple parameters and ultimately making sure that the gas exchange is happening at the level it needs to."

Vitrolife, developers of the ex vivo perfusion system, have developed a similar system for kidney transplantation.  It is hoped that these systems will increase the availability of acceptable organs by 25 to 30 percent.  Vitrolife is funding the investigational trials at several research centers as part of an ongoing FDA study comparing the outcomes of the ex vivo method with traditional transplant methods.


sources: Eurekalert, Vitrolife