Estelle Ellington receives Arizona's first 'breathing' lung transplant

PHOENIX - Estelle Ellington, a 53-year-old patient at St Joseph's Hospital, received the first "Lung-in-a-Box" transplant in Arizona.

The "Lung-in-a-Box" program is a unique experiment using scientific technology to keep the lung "breathing" during storage and transport. 

An experimental organ-preservation device (the box) called the Organ Care System (OCS) circulates blood and oxygen and actually makes the lungs expand and contract.

Michael Smith, MD, associate chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of lung transplantation at St. Joseph's Hospital explained that preserving lungs using this technique replicates how lungs live in the body. This allows patients to receive lung transplants that work well right away. 

"With this technology, we're not only able to keep the lungs living while outside the body, but we're also able to monitor and potentially improve lung function prior to transplant," Smith said.

Over time, this OCS technology could replace the standard icebox method. 

The program is only available in five sites in the nation, St. Joseph's being one of them.

Dr. Ross Bremner, MD, PhD, heads St. Joseph's Hospital lung transplant program which is only 6 years old.

Bremner said, "It has grown extraordinarily quickly and has been recognized for excellence by a number of highly-respected organizations. Obtaining this technology is a great benefit to our patients who are waiting for that call saying they have new lungs."

More than 2,300 people in need of a transplant in Arizona are waiting for a similar call. 


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