Updated: 11/21/2013 7:43 AM
Created: 11/20/2013 5:19 PM KSTP.com
By: Todd Wilson
A new technique allows a transplanted lung to continue breathing as it's moved from donor to recipient. The University of Minnesota is the first in the Midwest to use the new technology.
KSTP spoke with a 51-year-old man who has a new lease on life, thanks to a lung transplant. "Even though I was in pain I could tell I felt better," he said.
He smoked a pack and a half a day for 35 years. Eventually, he was diagnosed with COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; he ended up on the transplant list.
"I didn't heed the warnings, thinking they would go away but, it didn't," he said. An ingenious new technology was used in his case. It's called the "Breathing Lung Concept."
"It's a device essentially that allows the lungs to be ventilating, breathing air and have circulating blood going through it," said Dr. Gabriel Loor of the University of Minnesota.
The lungs are never on ice, which is the current method of transport for organs. Dr. Loor says the benefit to the patient is they won't have to wait so long on the donor list. "It translates into better lungs, better quality and improved recovery," he said.
Rehab is lengthy for the patient we spoke with, but his outlook on life is brighter. "There will be nothing else to stop me. Enjoy my family and just take one day at a time, that's all I'm going to do," he said.
The same technology in the Breathing Lung Concept is being used in the transport of hearts. Researchers are now looking into the possibility of using it to ship livers.
Warning: the video shows the medical procedure which could be tough for some to watch.