“Breathing Lung”

A New Technology Could Expand Transplant Availability

Tens of thousands of people in the United States are in need of a lung transplant, and they often must wait for months or years before a donor lung becomes available. The FDA expanded approval of the TransMedics Organ Care System for Lung, or OCS™ Lung, may help increase the pool of available donor lungs for transplant.

Approval under the FDA’s expanded criteria means that the OCS Lung System—which keeps lungs perfused in a warm, sterile, portable chamber with nutrient-rich and oxygenated blood—can be used to transport lungs that would otherwise have been deemed unacceptable for transplant. In October, Temple performed Pennsylvania’s first post-approval transplant utilizing OCS Lung under these expanded criteria. Five transplants have been performed in total since then; all transplants were successful and the patients are doing well.

Compared with standard cold storage, the OCS Lung System reduces the amount of time that donor lungs are cut off from blood and oxygen support. The lungs are kept “breathing” through a built-in ventilation circuit that allows the medical team to adjust and optimize ventilation throughout the retrieval process without adding extra time. The OCS Lung keeps the donor lungs perfused and ventilated during transport and until they are ready for implantation; it also measures and displays real time data regarding the health of the organs.

M. Abul Kashem, MD, PhD, research faculty and assistant professor of surgery at Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine, is analyzing transplant survival outcomes and assessing the long-term benefits for patients of using the OCS Lung System. “This innovative technology is state-of-the-art in its ability to preserve the health of the organ in such a small chamber and to ventilate in real time before the organ is implanted in patients,” he says. “Our team is looking forward to seeing the results of such device-based lung transplant technology for waiting list patients.” For the past four years, the Temple Lung Center has performed among the highest number of lung transplants of all centers in the United States, yet many more patients remain in need across the country. Technologies like OCS Lung offer the hope that more patients may soon receive this life-saving procedure in time.