Penn Transplant Institute

Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion (EVLP)

ex-vivo perfusion

Penn surgeons work on donor lungs that have been transferred to a sterile plastic chamber for perfusion.

Lung transplantation is the only life–saving therapy for patients with certain types of end–stage lung disease; however the procedure has limited availability because not all donor lungs are safe for transplantation. This shortage of donor lungs results in the death of 20 percent of lung transplant candidates awaiting transplant.

Ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) is an innovative therapy applied to donor lungs outside of the body before transplantation that improves organ quality and makes lungs that were previously unsuitable safe for transplant. The ultimate goal of the Penn Lung Transplant Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion Program is to expand the pool donor lungs available and extend this life–saving therapy to more patients awaiting transplant.

Currently, EVLP is offered by a handful of centers in the world and is only available through a clinical trial in the United States. Led by lung transplant surgeon Edward Cantu, MD, Penn Medicine is one of 6 sites in the United States participating in this clinical trial, a testament to the high quality of research and patient care available at Penn.

Watch an interview with Jason Christie, MD, about ex vivo lung perfusion.

How is ex vivo lung perfusion performed?

The process involves a 3– to 4–hour period during which the donated lungs are placed inside a sterile plastic dome attached to a ventilator, pump, and filters. The lungs are maintained at normal body temperature and treated with a bloodless solution that contains nutrients, proteins, and oxygen. This can reverse lung injury and remove excess lung water. During the process, lung function is evaluated continuously on several key indicators. Once determined to be suitable, the lungs are transplanted into a waiting patient.

To find out if you are a candidate for lung transplant, read about Penn Lung Transplant's patient selection criteria..

For more information, please contact Jaya Tiwari, CCRP, clinical research project manager, at 215–614–0387.