Transplant Team Enrolls First U.S. Patient in Novel Lung Trial

Visionary leadership and synchronized teamwork propelled the University of Maryland Medical Center to the forefront of transplantation once again when the lung transplant team became the first in the country to use an experimental ex vivo lung perfusion technique in a clinical trial to repair donor lungs prior to transplantation. We are excited about the prospect of what this ex vivo, out-of-the-body perfusion technique could mean for our many transplant candidates who often spend years waiting for lungs to become available, says the principal investigator, Bartley P. Griffith, M.D., professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. This research is part of our ongoing goal to develop innovative procedures and rapidly improve our patients quality of life.

The Goal: More transplantable lungs

Currently, only 15 to 20% of donor lungs are transplantable; most do not meet transplant criteria. According to the United Network of Organ Sharing, nearly 30 people in Maryland are waiting for a lung transplant. This new technique, if approved by the FDA, could increase the donor lung pool significantly and provide more transplantable lungs to the more than 1,700 candidates on the waiting list.

Our OR staff and clinical trial program managers have studied the variables of this case inside and out so that when the opportunity presented itself to use this new ex vivo technique, our team didn't miss a beat. We were able to repair the lungs to meet our high transplant standards and give this patient an option where she otherwise might have had none, says Dr. Griffith.

How the process works

Lungs in this clinical trial are recovered using current donor lung retrieval techniques. Once brought to the study transplant center, the lungs are reassessed by the transplant team. The lungs are then physiologically assessed during ex vivo perfusion with STEEN Solution™ over a period of three to four hours. During this time, the transplant team evaluates abnormalities inside the lungs, oxygenation levels and overall health of the lungs. At the end of the process, the transplant team determines if the lungs meet the high standards necessary for transplantation. Studies from other sites outside the U.S. have demonstrated that the results after transplantation using this ex vivo technique were at least as good as lungs that had not required perfusion, says Griffith. These findings, plus the expertise from within our own center, give me great confidence in the future use of this ex vivo perfusion technique as an option to potentially increase our pool of transplantable lungs and reduce long wait times for our transplant candidates.

Other hospitals participating in the trial include Duke University, Columbia University Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the University of Colorado. For more information on lung transplantation, please contact Senior Thoracic Transplant Coordinator Janine Zoch at 410-328-2948 or [email protected]