A team of engineers from the Columbia University-based biomedical engineering faculty recently announced that they were finally successful in reviving a historical medical technique that will help in keeping donated lungs safer for transplantation surgeries. They made use of a surgical procedure that was designed in the 1960s for exchanging flow of blood between patients, they were finally able to develop a new procedure that can support lungs that are kept outside the body and can be used in the treatment of ischemia. It is a cross circulation method that offers critical systemic as well as metabolic factors that are usually missing from present day strategies that can support living organs outside the human body.
With the help of this method, as the team from Columbia University believes, they will be able to keep the function and viability of the donor lung constant for next 36 hours. It will be highly helpful for the recipient as well. This information was confirmed by the team leader Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic who teaches biomedical engineering and Matt Bacchetta who is an associate professor of surgery. These two were able to accomplish this task with complete success. The total number of donor’s lungs is actually much smaller than other organs. There are so many that die every day waiting for the organ. Considering this critical issue, the Columbia University team focused all their attention towards this process of transplantation.
Vunjak-Novakovic, adds, “The lung is a masterpiece of ‘engineering by nature’ with its more than 40 cell types and a gas exchange surface area of 100 square meters—half a tennis court.Our team worked hard to innovate a suite of imaging and targeted delivery technologies and ultimately completed this challenging, paradigm-shifting study in less than a year.”
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