HonorBridge Uses Innovative Technology to Save More Lives

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Keeping Lungs Breathing and Warm for Transplantation: HonorBridge is one of a few organizations in the nation to partner with TransMedics to increase the number of lungs available for transplant by using a new system that keeps lungs warm and breathing as in the human body. Now lungs can be placed and transported at greater distances and save more lives.

HonorBridge, the state’s largest organ donation and tissue recovery organization, has partnered with TransMedics to increase the number of lungs available for transplant. As of the second quarter of 2021, HonorBridge was one of only six organ procurement organizations in the nation, working with TransMedics to fully deploy its national Organ Care System (OCS) for lungs network. This system has the potential to increase the number of available lungs that otherwise may not have been considered for transplantation, thus allowing HonorBridge to maximize these donation opportunities and save more lives.

Of the solid organ transplants, lungs are the most fragile. Recovered lungs from donors are normally placed on ice in a cooler that is then immediately transported to a regional transplant center. Lungs need to be transplanted quickly, thus restricting the distance they can travel to transplant centers. 

By using the OCS Lung System, lungs are kept warm and breathing as in the human body. This is done by the system circulating oxygenated nutrient-rich blood through the breathing lungs from the time they are placed on the machine at the site of donation, until they are removed at the transplant center. This allows lungs to be placed and transported at greater distances. Lungs on the OCS Lung System can be transplanted upwards of 20 hours after recovery from the donor, which is much greater than the current four to six-hour window.

“This new technology provides HonorBridge the opportunity to truly exhaust all efforts to find recipients for its donor lungs anywhere in the United States,” said Danielle Niedfeldt, President & CEO, HonorBridge. “Additionally, it:

  • keeps organs viable for longer times so that they can be matched with the person most in need,
  • gives those waiting for lung transplants extra time to travel to their transplant center,
  • provides additional time for surgeons to be prepared for the transplant surgery,
  • increases the number of lungs available from non-traditional deceased donors, and 
  • gives delicate lungs time to heal after the recovery process.”

“The OCS Lung System could enable a significant increase in donor lungs available for transplantation in the US. This marks a major milestone forward in our drive to expand access to life-saving transplant procedures for patients suffering from end-stage organ failure,” said Waleed Hassanein, M.D., President and CEO of TransMedics.

“Organ procurement organizations, such as HonorBridge, which manage and screen the donation process, and allocate donor organs to matching recipients at transplant centers, are under significant pressure to increase the number of organ transplants,” Dr. Hassanein adds. The TransMedics OCS Lung System will help increase that number and save lives of those awaiting life-saving lung transplants. 

More information about HonorBridge is available here and additional information about TransMedics can be found here. To register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor, visit RegisterMe.Org/NC.

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About HonorBridge: 

HonorBridge is the federally designated, not-for-profit organ procurement organization serving 7.5 million people in 78 counties in North Carolina and Virginia. With offices in Durham, Greenville and Winston-Salem, HonorBridge maximizes the passing of the heroic gift of life from one human being to another through organ and tissue donation. In North Carolina, almost 3,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant and nationally, over 100,000 people are on the organ waiting list. For more information, visit HonorBridge.org or call 1-800-200-2672.

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