Researchers investigate the potential of lung restoration for transplant

January 8, 2018 by From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network

Q: What is the role of lung restoration in lung transplants? How does it work?

A: Over the past several years, devices outside the body have been used to evaluate human lungs donated for organ before the lungs are transplanted. In the future, lung restoration may be used to treat donated lungs to make them healthier, so they could be viable for a transplant. While some centers already have been using these devices to maximize use of , the transplant community is still awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make these technologies available in the U.S. without restriction.

A lung transplant can be a lifesaving procedure for people with serious , such as pulmonary hypertension, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis. But the number of lungs available for transplant consistently falls far short of the number of people waiting for a lung transplant.

In addition to a shortage of donors, in many cases the lungs of those who have volunteered to be organ donors are not suitable for a transplant. Statistics show that about 80 percent of all the lungs available for transplant are deemed not suitable for transplantation. That means only about 20 percent of donated lungs are currently transplanted.

To combat this problem, researchers have been investigating the potential of lung restoration over the past decade. In research studies, this approach appears to show promise in being able to help better assess the health of donated lungs and possibly improve the function of some donated lungs to the point that they could be suitable for a transplant.

Better assessment of donated lungs is crucial, because, in some cases, it is difficult to tell if the lungs may be healthy enough for a transplant. In these borderline situations, the lungs may not be used for transplant.

Through lung restoration, however, donated lungs can be removed from a deceased donor, preserved and attached to a ventilator outside the body. Blood or a blood substitute is circulated through the lungs, and the lungs are tested for circulation and airway pressure to see if they may work for transplant. In addition, samples can be taken from those lungs, and bronchoscopies and X-rays can be performed on them to assess their function further.

In the future, researchers are looking to take this process a step further and treat donated lungs to make them healthier. For example, in some cases after a person dies, the lungs may become flooded with fluid—a condition called pulmonary edema. It is possible the excess fluid could be drawn out of the lung tissue after the lungs have been removed from the donor. Doing so could improve their function and make the lungs suitable for a transplant. It is also possible that marginal donor lungs could be treated to reverse lung injury, making them clinically viable for transplant.

As the technology for advances, the hope is that it will considerably increase the number of lungs available for transplant. The need for organ donors always will be great, though, so if you haven't done so already, consider becoming an . Being an organ is a generous and worthwhile decision that can save lives.

Explore further: Older donor lungs should be considered for transplantation

1 shares

Related Stories

Older donor lungs should be considered for transplantation

November 9, 2017
With a scarcity of lungs available for transplantation, the use of lungs from donors older than age 60 has been shown to achieve reasonable outcomes and should be considered as a viable option, according to research published ...

Stem cell therapy may help recondition lungs previously rejected for transplant

July 10, 2014
Nearly 1,650 people in the U.S. are awaiting lung transplants. Unfortunately, both domestically and abroad, the demand for donor lungs far outpaces the supply. The limited availability of donor lungs can lead to long delays ...

FDA approves lung preservation machine (Update)

August 12, 2014
Federal health regulators have approved a novel device that can preserve donated lungs outside the body for possible transplantation into critically ill patients.

Cause of donor death should not automatically exclude lungs from transplant consideration

October 1, 2014
Patients receiving lungs from donors whose cause of death was asphyxiation or drowning have similar outcomes and long-term survival as patients receiving lungs from traditional donors, according to a study in the October2014 ...

Surgeons test technology with potential to expand lung transplant donor pool

April 7, 2016
Michele Coleman lay close to death last fall with end-stage lung disease when she got a second chance at life.

Study finds lungs from heavy smokers OK for transplant

January 29, 2013
(HealthDay)—Lungs of heavy smokers can be donated safely for use in adult double-lung transplants, a new study contends.

Recommended for you

Surgical adhesions can be treated, prevented in mice

November 28, 2018
A cellular culprit—as well as a possible treatment—for a common, sometimes life-threating post-surgical complication has been identified by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Cost and weight-loss potential matter most to bariatric surgery patients

November 28, 2018
A JAMA Surgery study found that patients are likely to base their weight loss surgery choice on expected out-of-pocket costs, and how much weight they can lose—not risk of complications or recovery time.

Treating spinal pain with replacement discs made of 'engineered living tissue' moves closer to reality

November 21, 2018
For the first time, bioengineered spinal discs were successfully implanted and provided long-term function in the largest animal model ever evaluated for tissue-engineered disc replacement. A new Penn Medicine study published ...

Screening for colorectal cancer spares male patients from intense treatments

November 21, 2018
While screening for colorectal cancer does not reduce mortality, it does reduce the need for chemotherapy and emergency surgeries among male patients, according to a recent Finnish study.

Rapid response inpatient education boosts use of needed blood-thinning drugs

November 16, 2018
A new study designed to reach hospitalized patients at risk shows that a "real-time" educational conversation, video or leaflet can lower the missed dose rates of drugs that can prevent potentially lethal blood clots in their ...

Race plays role in regaining weight after gastric bypass surgery

November 15, 2018
African Americans and Hispanic Americans who have undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) are at greater risk to regain weight as compared to Caucasians. To date, no study has addressed the effect of race on weight regain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.