The University Medical Center Groningen has introduced the ex vivo lung perfusion technique in it's hospital with two successfull lung transplants after being perfused with the Lung Assist. Two discarded donor lungs had been transported to the UMCG to be perfused with the Lung Assist. During the perfusion the lungs have been re-warmed by using the integrated heater-cooler unit of the device. After the (normothermic) evaluation of the donor lungs they could be easily cooled back to hypothermia with the same machine and stored untill transplantation.
The University Medical Center Groningen was proud to present the following press realease on February 9th 2013:
The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) has applied a new technique that can make rejected donor lungs suitable for transplantation. Meanwhile the first two patients in the Netherlands successfully underwent transplantation with optimized donor lungs. The new technique can expand the supply of suitable donor lungs and thereby possibly reduce the waiting list.
Every year dozens of donor lungs are not used in the Netherlands because they strongly detoriate because of the death process. During the death process inflammatory substances are released that damage the lungs. Fluid retention (edema) in the lungs hinder the uptake of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide after transplantation. Because of this reason sometimes donor lungs that were initialy healthy must be rejected after they became unsuitable for transplantation by the death proces.
With the new technology these so-called "edema lungs" can be repaired to make them suitable for transplantation. This is done by flushing the donor lungs outside the body with a machine, a special liquid and respiration of the lungs. After about four hours the lungs recover and can be transplanted. The treatment reduces also the chance acute rejection by immune response of the donor organ by the body.
The technique has been extensively tested with pig lungs and rejected donor lungs. Around eighty of such transplants have been performed in Toronto (Canada), in Europe a few dozen. At the UMCG two patients have been successfully transplanted with 'recovered' donor lungs recently.
"It is fantastic that we can apply this technology in the Netherlands now" said Michiel Erasmus, thoracic surgeon and program leader lung and heart transplants in the UMCG. "Not only we can increase the number of suitable donor lungs, but also the chance of acceptance of the transplanted lung. It is also positive for relatives of the donor, because we fullfill the wish of being donor."
In the Netherlands an average of sixty lung transplants are performed by university medical centers in Groningen, Utrecht and Rotterdam. In 2012 there were 80. In Groningen approximately thirty to thirty-five lung transplants are performed. The UMCG is one of the few hospitals in the world and the only hospital in the Netherlands, that performs all types of organ transplants. Not only heart, kidney, lung, liver, pancreas and small intestine transplants, but also combined transplants such as combined heart/lung transplants, lung/liver transplants and kidney/pancreas transplants. The UMCG is also a pioneer in the field of transplantation medicine. Some organ transplants in the UMCG were performed for the first time in the Netherlands.
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