Penn Surgeons Perform First Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion Transplantation in the Philadelphia Region

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Media Contact:Jessica Mikulski | | 215-349-8369December 6, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — Transplant surgeons at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have successfully used a new technique that repairs damaged donated lungs that would have been unusable, allowing for successful transplantation of the reconditioned lungs into a patient. The patient, a 66-year-old man from the Philadelphia suburbs, was transplanted at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and is the first in the region to receive donated lungs using this new procedure.

“ Known as ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP), the new technique is applied to donor lungs outside of the body before transplantation with the goal of improving recovery practices and expanding the pool of organs available for patients in need of lung transplantation.

Chronic lung disease affects 35 million Americans, results in 400,000 deaths, and causes a public health burden exceeding $150 billion each year. Lung transplantation is the only life-saving therapy for patients with end-stage lung disease, however, the procedure has limited availability because not all donor lungs are safe for transplantation. This shortage of donor lungs results in the death of 20 percent of lung transplant candidates awaiting transplant.

"In the U.S., only 15-20 percent of potential donors have viable lungs for transplantation," said Edward Cantu, MD, assistant professor of Surgery, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, at Penn. "Donor lungs are susceptible to injuries from excess fluid accumulation, bacteria, or damage from intensive care unit-related complications, rendering them medically unsuitable for transplantation. EVLP is a new method that allows the transplant team time to accurately assess and optimize function of these injured donor lungs that would otherwise not be used. With this new technique, we could potentially double the number of usable lungs for patients awaiting transplantation."

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