Donor lungs could be kept alive for substantially longer period

The length of time donor lungs could be preserved prior to transplant could be safely extended to more than 12 hours — more than double the average 5–6 hour standard time — without jeopardising recipient outcomes, by using a combination of cold preservation and a new technique called ex-vivo lung perfusion (EVLP), whereby the lung is kept alive outside the body and supported by a supply of oxygen and nutrients.

The new study, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, found that patients who received a donor lung preserved for more than 12 hours had similar survival at 1 year post transplant to those who received lungs preserved for less than 12 hours.

The findings suggest that this new approach could increase the availability of donor organs by reducing geographical limitations on donors and recipients, and enabling organs to be transported over longer distances to recipients further away than previously viable.

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