"This study is extremely exciting. It's really on the frontier of what we're able to do in terms of organ preservation and transplantation," said Dr. Michael Goldstein, director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at Mount Sinai Medical Center and medical director of the New York Organ Donor Network in New York City.
Goldstein also pointed out that this technique could allow donated lungs to become more widely available geographically. He said that, currently, donated lungs typically can't travel very far, which means that the person who might be most in need might not get the donated lungs simply because of distance. But, if the lungs remain viable for longer periods of time, that geographical limitation might be eliminated.
Dr. Joseph Pilewski, medical director of the lung transplantation program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said that having the extra time this technique provides might also allow surgeons to better match donated lungs to potential recipients, possibly reducing the risk of rejection.
Neither Goldstein nor Pilewski expressed any concerns about the medical aspects of the new lung-preserving procedure. Both pointed out that the device and technique are labor intensive, and currently require a significant infrastructure investment, but both expect that the technique will be refined to become more accessible.
"This group in Toronto has really made significant progress in a short period of time. Right now, this may end up being limited to a few centers, but other companies will probably jump in. In the long run, about three to five years, I think this technique has great potential to change the way we practice. This technique is promising and has a large number of potential uses," said Pilewski.
Learn more about lung transplants from the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
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