The UPMC Lung Transplant Program offers new hope to patients via the use of ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP). EVLP expands the pool of suitable donor lungs, leading to shorter average wait times for transplant candidates.
Ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) is a process by which a pair of lungs is kept alive outside the body so that a surgeon can evaluate them for transplant.
Lung transplants are one of the most difficult transplant procedures to coordinate. The availability of donor lungs is limited, and many donor lungs do not pass the initial screening process that determines if they are healthy enough for a traditional lung transplant.
However, thanks to EVLP, the number of lungs available for transplant is increasing, as the process allows surgeons to create a lower stress, controlled environment that maximizes the health of donor lungs.
Before any lung transplant, potential recipients must undergo an intensive screening process to determine if they are transplant candidates. Similarly, a pair of lungs undergoes a comprehensive screening to determine if they are viable for transplant. When evaluating a pair of donor lungs, the UPMC Lung Transplant Program team will check to see if they are healthy enough for immediate transplant. If not, the donor lungs will be considered for EVLP.
EVLP mimics the environment of the lungs inside the body. The donated lungs are placed inside a clear, plastic dome and attached to a ventilator and filtration system. Inside the dome, the lungs are maintained at a steady temperature and treated with a specialized solution that contains nutrients and oxygen, clearing out bacteria and promoting stability.
Once the lungs are flushed out and ventilated, the surgical team will reevaluate them, examining the lungs' blood vessel pressure, tissue elasticity, and oxygen capacity, along with a host of other investigative medical procedures. As the medical team assesses the state of the donor lungs, they also reevaluate and adjust their surgical plan as needed.
With the help of EVLP, our lung transplant team is better able to evaluate a pair of lungs for transplant. Lungs that undergo EVLP are more thoroughly examined and are more likely to be deemed suitable for transplant. As a result, more people on the transplant waiting list will be able to receive a new pair of lungs.
EVLP gives transplanted lungs that were formerly too difficult for physicians to evaluate for transplant viability a good chance of long-term success. Since the lungs have undergone extensive assessment and testing to determine their viability, EVLP raises the chance that the recipient's body will accept the new lungs. The outcomes of EVLP-treated transplant procedures are equal to those of traditional lung transplants.
To make an appointment or refer a patient, visit UPMC Lung Transplant Program, or call 844-548-4591 for more information.