IU Health Methodist Hospital performs Indiana’s first ‘breathing lung’ transplant
Portable technology enables doctors to keep donated lungs warm and breathing during transport
| Indianapolis—Twenty-five years after Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital performed Indiana’s first lung transplant, surgeons at the hospital have made history again by performing the state’s first ‘breathing lung’ transplant using the TransMedics Organ Care Systems (OCS)™ Lung—a next-generation technology designed to transport donated lungs while keeping them warm and breathing, instead of carrying them in an ice cooler.
Doctors at IU Health Methodist Hospital recently used this ‘breathing lung’ transplant technology to bring healthy lungs from an out-of-state hospital to Indianapolis for a double-lung transplant that ultimately saved the life of Damon Bradtmueller, a 63-year-old retired construction superintendent from Brownsburg, Indiana, who spent the last nine months of his life breathing with the support of an oxygen tank.
“I’m glad to have a second chance at a normal life,” said Bradtmueller, who looks forward to having the energy to attend more Indianapolis Colts games and do volunteer work with his church and in the community.
This medical first for Indiana is part of the INSPIRE trial, an international study comparing the health of patients who receive transplants using donor lungs transported using the traditional cold storage method versus those transported using the TransMedics ‘breathing lung’ transplant technology.
IU Health is the only Indiana hospital system participating in the United States portion of the randomized study, which involves several of the nation's leading lung transplant centers such as UCLA Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic.
“All of the transplant centers involved in this study are really trying to answer one question: When it comes to transporting organs like the lung, which conditions are best—warm versus cold?” said I-wen Wang, M.D., Ph.D, a cardiothoracic surgeon at IU Health Methodist Hospital who specializes in heart and lung transplantation and serves as the hospital’s principal investigator for the trial. “The answer could potentially transform how we transport all organs and ultimately help us save more lives.”
For decades, doctors have transported donated organs in coolers filled with ice. But this traditional ice-box method—which involves cooling and re-warming organs that have gone hours without blood flow—can potentially injure donor lungs, which are extremely fragile and in short supply.
The TransMedics ‘breathing lung’ transplant technology offers a more natural approach than cold storage, allowing doctors to travel to the donor hospital and place the lungs inside a machine that allows the organs to continue functioning in regular conditions—breathing oxygen at a normal body temperature with blood circulating—from the moment they are removed from the donor until they reach the transplant center. The portable transplant system also works like a “mini-intensive care unit on wheels,” according to Dr. Wang, allowing doctors to perform blood tests and continuously monitor the organs during the journey.
Using the device, Dr. Wang and his team brought the organs to IU Health Methodist Hospital, where he performed Indiana’s first ‘breathing lung’ transplant with Dr. Thomas Wozniak, a cardiothoracic surgeon and director of heart and lung transplantation at IU Health.
“The patient has done very well with the new lungs,” said Dr. Wang. “For the first time in a long time, he can breathe room air without the need for supplemental oxygen.”
IU Health Methodist Hospital acquired the TransMedics technology through the support of the hospital’s research grant, Methodist Research Institute, Indiana Organ Procurement Organization, Inc. and a gift from Methodist Health Foundation.
IU Health Methodist Hospital is home to the only lung transplant program in Indiana and performs nearly 50 lifesaving lung transplants each year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
To learn more about the INSPIRE trial, visit: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01630434.
About Indiana University Health
Named among the “Best Hospitals in America” by U.S. News & World Report for 17 consecutive years, IU Health is dedicated to providing a unified standard of preeminent, patient-centered care. A unique partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine—one of the nation’s leading medical schools—gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology. Learn more at iuhealth.org.
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