Gift of Life is first organ procurement organization with ground-breaking lung technology

Gift of Life Michigan logo

ANN ARBOR, MI – Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s only organ and tissue donor program, has approval to begin using an extraordinary technology that will boost both the number and quality of lungs available for transplant.

Gift of Life is the first organ procurement organization, or OPO, in the nation to own an Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion machine. Until now, the technology has been used only at a small number of transplant centers around the nation through a clinical trial under U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversight.

The device allows recovered lungs to be medically sustained outside of the donor’s body while being readied for transplant. The reconditioning can turn marginal lungs into good lungs and improve the outcomes for patients who desperately need these gifts.

“We are thrilled to lead the way on this advancement,” said Richard Pietroski, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan. “There are 110 patients in Michigan currently in need of a lung transplant and over 1,600 nationwide. The Ex Vivo Lung program gives them renewed hope for renewed life.”

Pietroski praised the state’s three lung transplantation programs for their collaboration with Gift of Life to get one of the reconditioning devices to Michigan. Gift of Life is partnering with Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids and the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor to use Ex Vivo technology.

Under the agreement, lungs recovered anywhere in Michigan can be placed on the machine, reconditioned and then transplanted into a patient at one of those three transplant centers. Eventually, Gift of Life plans to recondition lungs for any transplant center across the Midwest.

Donated lungs are highly susceptible to a multitude of issues, including bruising, fluid buildup and potential for infection. It can be difficult to address those problems while the lungs remain in the donor’s body because standard remedies could compromise other organs. As a result, only 15 percent to 20 percent of all organ donors have lungs successfully transplanted.

Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion can boost the percentage of transplants because the technology treats many adverse conditions while the lungs are on the machine. The donated lungs are maintained on the device, at normal temperatures, for at least four hours before being transplanted into a waiting recipient, in accordance with the federal clinical trial.

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EDITOR’S NOTES:

  • Richard Pietroski, Gift of Life CEO, and Paul Lange, M.D., Gift of Life medical director, are available to be interviewed for this story.
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