is the role of lung restoration in lung transplants? How does
the past several years, devices outside the body have been
used to evaluate human lungs donated for organ transplant
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 donor lungs, 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.
transplant can be a lifesaving procedure for people with
serious lung diseases, 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.
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.
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 health care providers 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.
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.
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
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 ó 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.
technology for lung restoration 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 havenít done so already, consider becoming
an organ donor. Being an organ donor is a generous and
worthwhile decision that can save lives.