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New technology will increase supply of donor lungs

Erasmus MC expects that the number of lung transplants can be increased by 35% by using the new circulation machine wich makes it possible to make donor lungs that were previously unsuitable for transplant safe for use in a donation procedure.

Organ donation
Ex Vivo LongperfusieIn the Netherlands, there are about 170 people on the waiting list for new lungs.  The number of lungs that become available after organ donation every year is insufficient, and in many cases the lungs are not suitable for donation. There are patients on the waiting list who die because they do not get new lungs in time. 

The new circulation machine treats the lungs with a solution and ventilates them with oxygen after they have been removed from the donor. This therapy, called Ex Vivo Long Perfusion (EVLP), improves the quality of  donor lungs outside of the body and makes these donor lungs that were previously unsuitable safe for transplant.  

Right direction
The technique is not new. UMCG, for example, has been using it successfully since 2015. Pulmonologist Rogier Hoek says: "We expect that 75% of the donor lungs that were initially unsuitable for transplant can be used after undergoing this process. However, we still have a long way to go as the demand for donor lungs is greater than supply, but it is certainly a step in the right direction."

Date published: 22 December 2017.

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