Being a relatively new technique in modern medicine, organ transplantations can be a lifesaver for those who are born with weak organs that need a healthier one to replace them.  However, the number of organs donated for transplantation are limited and if the donated organ is damaged in any way they are considered useless. This is especially the case for lungs donated to patients with end-stage lung disease, which was the focus of a study that was published in a recent issue of Nature Communications.

This was a follow-up to a previous study conducted by Columbia Engineering in collaboration with Vanderbilt University where they used cross-circulation and therapeutic intervention to recover damaged lungs.  While the first study involved lungs affected by ischemia, this current study done by the same research team focused on lungs that had gastric aspiration in them. Through experimentation, the research team effectively demonstrated “The viability and function of the donor lung and the stability of the recipient for 36 to 56 hours” according to the News section of Columbia Engineering’s website.  What the team hopes to do with this knowledge is further studies on how the lungs function after being transplanted and the safety of their method.

About End-Stage Lung Disease

Also known as End-Stage Pulmonary Disease, this is the fourth stage of any progressive lung disease that is chronic in nature.  Symptoms include decreased airflow in lungs, lower blood oxygen, coughing, and mucus production. There is no cure for this, but methods have been developed to ease the diseases’ effects which includes lung transplantation.  But according to Columbia Engineering, “Up to 80% of donor lungs are rejected for serious but potentially reversible injuries”.

About Ischemia

This is when not enough blood is being given to one part in the body, or even an organ, which can happen because of exposure to the cold too much exercise or a tourniquet (a device that stops blood flow).

About Gastric Aspiration

As stated by Columbia Engineering, “This injury is caused by the entry of gastric material into the respiratory tract, resulting in severe injury to the pulmonary epithelium and thus making the lung unacceptable for transplantation”.  It is also used by doctors to diagnose pulmonary tuberculosis.

About Cross-Circulation

It is a procedure where the blood and/or functions of an organ inside a living donor are shared with a recipient.  Though it’s typically done with animals in experiments, it can be done on humans as well.

About Columbia Engineering

The popular name of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, it is a branch school at Columbia University in New York City.  Apart from strong ties famous institutes like The Earth Institute, MIT, IBM, and NASA, it has high-ranking in particular subjects of research. These include: Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Financial Engineering, and Applied Mathematics

Source: Engineering Columbia

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