LONDON, Mar 16, 2001 ( – A new technique would allow lung transplants from dead donors, for the first time. Prior to this technology, only lungs from donors who were alive, but declared “brain-dead” could be used for transplants. The new technique allows transplant of the lungs even though the donor is truly dead – the heart has stopped beating. A successful transplant has shown that coolant pumped into the lungs of the dead body over an hour after death allows the lungs to survive for another 12-24 hours.

Dr. Stig Steen, professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Lund in Sweden describes in the current issue of The Lancet a successful lung transplant using the new technique. The donor’s lungs were injected with coolant 65 minutes after his heart stopped and resuscitation failed; the lung was removed after three hours. The recipient of the lung has survived thus far for five months. Although organ transplantations are charitable and meritorious acts in theory, oftentimes they involve practical ethical concerns. With vital organ transplants the donor of the organ is actually killed by the organ’s removal.

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