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Hyderabad hospital carries out India’s first ‘breathing lung’ transplant

Hyderabad hospital carries out India’s first ‘breathing lung’ transplant.

India has joined the exclusive club of countries such as the US and Canada that can carry out a "breathing lung transplant" in patients with a team of surgeons at Hyderabad's Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences accomplishing the feat on Saturday.

The transplant was done on a middle-aged patient who was suffering from end-stage lung disease and was waiting for a donor lung since August. 

A donated lung becomes "breathing" when it is put into a hermetically sealed machine called the "organ reconditioning box" and treated with a nutrient solution containing antibiotics and other necessary fluids that flush out the infection, according to Program Director Dr Sandeep Attawar.

The lung is then made to breathe artificially through a ventilator that revives collapsed portions. Air passages are cleaned out through bronchoscopy and several tests can be done simultaneously to further assess and enhance the performance of the lung by a team of specialists.

“Only a select few transplant institutions in the United States, Canada, and Austria take this approach to enhance the outcomes of lung transplants,” Dr Sandeep Attawar said. The transplant teams utilised an organ conditioning system manufactured by Swedish medical technology company XVIVO.

The new process also reduces the "wastage" of donated lungs that takes place due to infection and collapse of internal parts. More than half the available lungs cannot be used for patients who need a transplant because of this wastage. The breakthrough assumes importance as there is currently a large number of people needing a transplant and their number is shooting up every day.

This process increases the number of usable organs by 30 per cent, said Dr Attawar.

The breakthrough also assumes importance at a time when COVID-19 has led to the degeneration of lungs of a large number of patients.