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bulletFirst patient to receive lung from dead donor dies

By TOMMY GRANDELL, Associated Press

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (March 19, 2001 2:21 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - A Swedish woman who was the first person to receive a lung removed from a dead donor died Sunday of a viral infection.

The 54-year-old woman died of cytomegalovirus, an infection commonly associated with organ transplantation, said Dr. Stig Steen at the University of Lund in southern Sweden. The woman needed the transplant because she suffered chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Steen used a new technique last October when he successfully transplanted into the woman the lungs of a man who died of a heart attack after a failed resuscitation attempt.

The man's lungs were injected through the chest with a coolant 65 minutes after he died. The cooling extended the ability of the lungs to survive for at least another 12 hours, Steen said in describing the method last week in The Lancet medical journal.

The lungs were removed after three hours.

Steen said Monday he considered the operation a success and the method will increase the number of organs available for transplant. 

"What happened is very unfortunate, but it won't affect our future research, because the woman did not die as a result of the transplant," he said. "In fact, the transplanted lung worked to the very last."

The patient, whose identity was not released, seemed to recuperate quite well from the beginning, and she was out of bed just a week after surgery, Steen said.

But her general state of health started to deteriorate after she underwent a liver operation that was unrelated to the lung transplant, and contracted the virus.

Steen said he has permission to perform eight more transplants of the same type, after which the new method will be analyzed to determine if it can pass from the research stage for use in general medical treatment. 

Organs start to deteriorate as soon as the heart stops beating. Until now, the main source of organ donations has been brain-dead people on life-support machines. 

Scientists recently discovered that the lungs have a unique ability to maintain themselves for about an hour after the heart stops beating because they fill with blood saturated with oxygen and the airways fill
with air.
Source: http://www.nandotimes.com/healthscience/story/0,1080,500465280-500710733-503914312-0,00.html  

 

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