Lung transplant first for Leuven researchers

Researchers of the University of Leuven have succeeded in transplanting a pair of donor lungs which was normally not suitable to be used for transplantation. It's a first for Belgium. The breakthrough could reduce waiting times for patients who need a new pair of lungs.

Suitable lungs often can't be used for transplants after all as fluid is formed in the lungs when the donor dies. However, researchers have succeeded in removing the water from the lungs using a special machine.

Professor Dirk Van Raemdonck of the Leuven University Hospital (Flemish Brabant) says that the breakthrough creates new opportunities. "If we have some 300 donors in Belgium, we can only use a 100 for the lungs. This means that we lose 2 out of 3 donor lungs. I estimate that we can make an improvement of 20 to 25 percent in the numbers thanks to this new technique. More patients on the waiting list to get new lungs can be helped, while the risk of an early decease after the transplant is being reduced."