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Machine to keep lungs alive after death tested

University of Michigan part of trial of new machine to preserve human lungs for transplant

ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan is taking part in a clinical trial of a technique to keep lungs alive for days after death, greatly extending the possibility of transplanting them into a needy recipient.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month approved use of a new machine for use with human lungs for “humanitarian” cases.

It’s called the XVIVO Perfusion System, and doctors say they hope the $250,000 machine will be able to sustain lungs outside the body long enough to assess them for transplant.

“Outside the body, without blood and oxygen, those cells start deteriorating quickly,” Dr. Paul Lange, medical director of Gift of Life Michigan, a transplantation organization, told the Detroit Free Press. “I’ve been in medicine for years, and I still think it’s wild ... almost science fiction.”

Gift of Life Michigan paid for the machine, housed at the university’s Extracorporeal Life Support Research Laboratory.

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