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Damaged donor lungs rescued with pig blood

Donated lungs are fragile: Their rapid decay outside the body means the vast majority fail to meet transplantation requirements and are discarded. Now, damaged lungs have been revived after connecting them to a pig’s circulatory system, STAT reports. Researchers took five lungs, rejected for transplantation, and attached them to live pigs via large veins and to a mechanical ventilator. After 24 hours, the lungs were less inflamed and worked better, according to the study, published yesterday in Nature Medicine. One lung had even healed enough to meet transplant requirements. The researchers hope the technique can be used to increase the number of viable donor lungs and shorten waiting lists for transplant patients. The researchers say the technique comes at a crucial time: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in long-term lung damage, even as it also caused a sudden drop in donations of all organ types.

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