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Device Keeps Lungs Breathing Outside the Body

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the trade-creepy-feeling-for-staying-alive dept.

Biotech 74

Al writes "A new system that keeps lungs breathing outside the body could improve the chances of a successful transplant. The Toronto XVIVO Lung Perfusion System, developed at Toronto General Hospital, can keep a pair of human lungs slowly breathing inside a glass dome attached to a ventilator, pump, and filters. The lungs are maintained at normal body temperature of 37 C and perfused with a bloodless solution that contains nutrients, proteins, and oxygen. The organs can be kept alive in the machine for up to 12 hours while surgeons assess function and repair them. See a video of the system keeping a pair of lungs alive."

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GOOD LORD!!!! (4, Insightful)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | about 5 years ago | (#27613241)

Sweet mother of Jesus!!

Watch that video!!


That's unholy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27613259)

Pass a bill against funding for that asap! It's against ywa's will.

Re:That's unholy (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | about 5 years ago | (#27613319)

Just in case it was lost in translation, my initial astonishment was GOOD.

Modern science truly works miracles.

Re:That's unholy (1, Funny)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | about 5 years ago | (#27613561)

Damn look how shitty universal health care is. Damn us socialists up here certainly live in the stone age.....

Re:That's unholy (3, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 years ago | (#27614635)

I think you have some issues.
And no Canadians are not stuck in the stone age. Only an idiot would think that.
You guys are stuck in the ice age :)

Re:That's unholy (2)

falcon5768 (629591) | about 5 years ago | (#27616141)

...and there goes the joke right over your head... maybe you can save it? Its still good Its still good.... Nope as Bart says later, its gone. You sir ruined the joke...

Re:That's unholy (2, Insightful)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 5 years ago | (#27618177)

I dunno. I'd say women in labor in Ontario denied epidural anasthetic ranks up there with "stuck in the stone age". See, it's an "unnecessary" expense.

And no, "the rich" can't pay for it out of pocket above the socialized care. See, that would be unfair to those who can't afford it.

Canada, along with Cuba and North Korea, is one of only three places where a citizen can not spend their own money to save their own life. The state literally owns your life.

When my son was sick there, I presented his American passport, and offered money, and he was seen right away. Unfortunately, as a Canadian citizen, I had to return to the U.S. to have the same privilege.

Re:That's unholy (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 years ago | (#27618507)

Hey I was just making a joke about the weather in Canada.
I have heard both good and bad about your health care system. The thing is that it is your health care system and not mine. I don't have to live with it, use it, or pay for it.
It is your country and I feel that Canadians need to work out what is best for Canada.

I know I hate it when people on other countries try to say what the US should or shouldn't do so as I said it is all up to you.
But that being said it is just too freaking cold for me there.

Re:That's unholy (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 5 years ago | (#27619167)

It's not my country. Not any more. I left for the U.S. and am a lawful permanent resident thereof.

It is easy to say that one should fix one's own's country's problems. However, in practice this can be very difficult when one is (a) the victim of it's policies, (b) exploited tax-wise for the benefit of others, (c) one's taxes also support the exploitive system itself.

What can one do? Bitch, complain, and try to raise awareness to effect a peaceful revolt at the polls?

I, and others, tried that, through referenced, researched, and publicized criticism of existing policies. It's a little unnerving to criticise the government, however, when the only thing that says you own your home is a record in a government database (Ontario has no real sense of title to property.), and, if you're deemed a security risk to the state, you can be held without trial, incommnunicado, indefinitely, and the charges against you kept a state secret from you or your attorney. Look up Canadian Security Certificate. Yes, the U.S. arguably does the same thing, but at least has founding documents that says it can't, and therefore a violent revolution against such behavior would have some air of legitimacy. Still, the recognition of habeous corpus for Guantanamo detainees gives me some hope, even as I might think them guilty of actions against the U.S. -- let a trial settle the issue.

The best way for me to fight, actually, was to leave. As a non-resident, the state was not entitled to my tax dollars any more. The U.S. is.

And, I have been treated far, far, FAR, better as a lawful permanent resident foreigner of the U.S. than I ever was as a citizen of the country of my birth.

Re:That's unholy (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 years ago | (#27620515)

Well the US is the land of immigrants so I have no problem with you choosing to be here. As I said I feel I have no right to say how Canada should run it's health care system. I do feel that Canada does a good job at being a democracy but then I don't live there. As I said my post was simply a weather joke. I was born and live in Florida so Canada is just too frigging cold.

Re:That's unholy (1)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | about 5 years ago | (#27641737)

Still, the recognition of habeous corpus for Guantanamo detainees gives me some hope, even as I might think them guilty of actions against the U.S. -- let a trial settle the issue

"In Canada, the United States has joined a notorious group of countries -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan and China, among others -- as a place where foreigners risk torture and abuse, according to a training manual for Canadian diplomats that was accidentally given this week to Amnesty International lawyers."

Last time Canada was in hot water over torture was when we handed over a "terrorist". Because we gave him up to America.

"When the United States sent Maher Arar to Syria, where he was tortured for months, the deportation order stated unequivocally that Mr. Arar, a Canadian software engineer, was a member of Al Qaeda. But a few days earlier, Canadian investigators had told the F.B.I. that they had not been able to link him to the terrorist group.

A close reading of the Arar Commission report offers a rare window on American actions in the case, describing seemingly flimsy evidence behind the American decision in 2002 to send Mr. Arar to a country notorious for torture; a deliberate attempt by American officials to deceive Canada about where Mr. Arar was; and lingering confusion among top American officials about the two countriesâ(TM) roles in the case.

Mr. Arar spent 10 months in the custody of Syrian interrogators who beat him repeatedly with a heavy metal cable and held him in a dank cell scarcely larger than a coffin, according to the commission report. In October 2003, he was released and returned to his wife and children in Canada."

Rene S Hollan
"Still, the recognition of habeous corpus for Guantanamo detainees gives me some hope, even as I might think them guilty of actions against the U.S. -- let a trial settle the issue."
If you are seriously defending this sh!t then you MUST be American.

Re:That's unholy (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | about 5 years ago | (#27652871)

No worse than Canadian Security Certificates.

Actually, less worse, because Guantanamo detainees have habeas corpus to draw upon in their defense, whereas individuals can be legally held incommunicado without trial indefinitely in Canada.

I never said the American government does not break it's own laws, but when it does, one can cry "Foul!"

Not so in Canada.

And, lets not forget Canadians Ahmed Said al-Khadr, and his family [danielpipes.org].

Heck, even then Prime Minister Chretien supported their terrorist groups.

I was born a Canadian and am happy to have escaped. I live on American soil, have an American son, pay American taxes, and fly an American flag.

Re:That's unholy (1)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 4 years ago | (#27751731)

You truly are crazy.

I dunno if you watch the news but Obama has acknowledged that all that torture was against basically every world law on the books, yet is gonna still ignore the rule of law saying that since it happened in the past we should move on.

I'd rather stay in a country that doesn't demolition buildings at the expense of thousands of it's own citizens and hundreds of it's on firefighters. But as usual it is like talking to a wall trying to explain to an American that buildings can't just fall at the speed of gravity unless by demolition, and it is a proven physical impossibility that jet fuel can reach the heat necessary to melt steel.

Re:That's unholy (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 5 years ago | (#27623753)

Please cite, since I kinda remember my mom having an epidural to have me just fine.

Re:That's unholy (1)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | about 5 years ago | (#27625191)

My post was pointing out the fact that often people feel universal health care gives only the basics rather then pushing innovation. When in fact Canadians have access to the same innovative technologies as everybody else and as this story points out are even breaking new ground.I only said in light of people south of us labeling health care as a socialist entity and think the quality of there health care would drop significantly if it were universal. Same people often think Michael Moore is the Antichrist so probably haven't seen his movie that points to an American system completely run by greed. Or maybe I'm just flamebait.

Re:That's unholy (1)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | about 5 years ago | (#27625233)

Another reason Americans should get universal health care, that I can speak for. Is because ass loads of 'Mericans come up here and exploit our free health care at the expense of Canadians. Buddies mom is a nurse and says at least once a week a lady from overseas has a baby at the expense of Canadian citizens to the tune of 30 000$ (in just her hospital). They plan ahead to go into labor soon after getting off the plane, we legally do not deny them health care (As other countries due if you have no insurance....) and thus the birth is free.

Re:That's unholy (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 4 years ago | (#27703759)

That seems... weird. The hospital doesn't charge them if they don't have a provincial health insurance card? Can you cite that?

Re:That's unholy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626379)

My wife had epidurals during delivery for both our children, and I'm pretty sure Ottawa is in Ontario (same for all of our friend). I've also paid out of pocket for services above the standard level of care (I paid to have a cut "glued" rather than the standard stitches. I can also drive across the river to Quebec and pay for an MRI if I want one tomorrow.

Not sure what your dealings have been with the healthcare system in Ontario, but it sure doesn't match with mine.

Re:GOOD LORD!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27621343)

Speaking of videos of lungs...

I had a collapsed lung a while back (the variant known as primary spontaneous pneumothorax [wikipedia.org]) and had to undergo surgery with micro cameras.

Just before being anaesthetized, I asked them if they could record a video of what the cameras were seeing so I could watch it later. They told me that they couldn't do this.

A few days later when I was barely able to walk again the surgeon came up to my bed and asked me if I could do him a favour and come down to one of his lectures (it was a university hospital with lecture rooms at the ground floor). He wanted me to tell his students about my experience. And he offered me a deal: "If you come, you can also watch your video."

So they had in fact recorded what the microcams were seeing, and were showing it in the lecture. It was pretty cool to see the inside of my own chest projected on a huge screen in a lecture hall for more than 15 minutes! Well, not everyone might agree with me on that, but I thought it was very very very very very very very awesome. And apart from just being awesome, it gave me a very good idea of what they did to me and made it easier to adjust to the situation. I've seen the damage done and lived through the healing process. It's quite nice to have gotten a visual impression of what I'd otherwise would only have been able to feel.

The sad part of the story is that they would not give me a copy of the movie, because they were afraid it would leak onto the internet and people would try to "steal" their surgery techniques or whatever and maybe even mess it up and cause someone harm. I wasn't really impressed by that attitude, but couldn't do much about it in the state I was in, and decided to not waste those peoples' time by arguing about copyright law and the question of appropriateness of content on the internet. I figured they should rather be spending their time on saving lives instead, the way they saved mine. I'm still glad I got to see it at least once anyway, and I will remember it for my entire life.

Re:GOOD LORD!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27622801)

Creepy. My two biggest fears in life when it comes to my body are a) having a heart attack, and b) experiencing a punctured or collapsed lung. The heart and lungs have always seemed so fragile to me (moreso than the rest of our fragile bodies). As though inhaling too deeply much might actually be capable of "popping" a lung or injuring the heart (if I fill my lungs as much as I can, I get an uncomfortable feeling in the heart region).

I have this weird, irrational fear that someday I'm going to get stabbed or shot and have to deal with a compromised lung. I can't imagine going through that. Though I suppose a heart attack is probably much more painful and life-threatening than (hopefully temporarily) losing a single lung. Just... creepy.

Getting them over with. (4, Funny)

Dripdry (1062282) | about 5 years ago | (#27613253)

What a breath of fresh air!
I'm glad they're breathing new life into transplant technology.
The medical community did well but they shouldn't go getting all puffed up over this.

phew. There. I'm taking a karma hit for everybody who even considered making those jokes.

Re:Getting them over with. (2, Funny)

Aranykai (1053846) | about 5 years ago | (#27613389)

The news media is just inflating this story to improve their ratings. Nothing to see here.

Re:Getting them over with. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#27620819)

Inflating the story? Have you been inhaling something? This is a breath-taking technology. If nothing else, somebody could draw inspiration from this and write some fine SF short story.

Re:Getting them over with. (4, Funny)

mfnickster (182520) | about 5 years ago | (#27614001)

Well, I'm glad you achieved your aspiration.

Re:Getting them over with. (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 5 years ago | (#27614083)

It'll be a while before this is viable for general use. I wouldn't hold my.....ahh nevermind.

Re:Getting them over with. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27629077)

You forgot to mention that this is a breathtaking adventure in science.

Heh, yup, we're both gonna pay

cool & creepy (2, Funny)

BigGar' (411008) | about 5 years ago | (#27613305)

While this is rather cool, I can't help thinking that,somehow, Vincent Price had a hand in the project.

Re:cool & creepy (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | about 5 years ago | (#27615405)

Is this a "Dr. Phibes" joke? Because if it is then you, sir, are awesome.

Ah, something on topic? hmmm.
While I don't see the current generation of breath contraptions ad impto hardum, the far reaching implications inherent in the very philosophy that embodies a device such as this should give each of us pause as we... oh fine, yes, it's off topic.

I'm strangely aroused (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 5 years ago | (#27613311)

Maybe it's not the heaving of breasts that is so attractive about women. Perhaps it's something more primal, more core.

Watching the lungs inflate and deflate rhythmically makes me feel all funny inside.

Like I want to retch.

Re:I'm strangely aroused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27613385)

Thank god I'm an emetophiliac.

Krang (2, Funny)

Java Pimp (98454) | about 5 years ago | (#27613341)

Damn that's just creepy! I half expect to see it moving around trying to take over the world [wikipedia.org]!

Iron Lung? (0)

Golddess (1361003) | about 5 years ago | (#27613377)

So they've basically re-designed the iron lung [wikipedia.org]?

Re:Iron Lung? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | about 5 years ago | (#27613499)

I do beleive the iron lung requires an actual living body to work. This simply requires living lungs. Hence, you know, the very first sentence in the summary "A new system that keeps lungs breathing outside the body"...

Re:Iron Lung? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 5 years ago | (#27614137)

Good news Mr and Mrs Smith! we were able to save your son's lungs. Here's the jar, make sure to keep him plugged in. Sorry we couldn't save anything else.

Re:Iron Lung? (1)

quantumghost (1052586) | about 5 years ago | (#27614579)

So they've basically re-designed the iron lung [wikipedia.org]?

Not really. An iron lung works by negative pressure outside the body causing a negative intrathoracic pressure which draws a breath into the lungs. This is mimicking the physiologic function of the chest wall where the intercostal muscles contract causing the ribs to rise (bucket handle) and the diaphram to contract and drop. This increases intrathoracic volume and decreases the pressure.

Looking at the video, they are using a positive pressure system, where much like the modern ventilators, forces air into the lung. This is less physiologic, but more efficient and provides more precise control.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27613401)

I call Shenanigans!

Wait, I need those... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27613479)

organs can be kept alive in the machine for up to 12 hours while surgeons assess function and repair them

Um... Good to know they can keep the lungs alive and healthy; but what are the surgeons doing for the lung donor while assessing and repairing???

Re:Wait, I need those... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 5 years ago | (#27613975)

...what are the surgeons doing for the lung donor while assessing and repairing???

Attending his funeral?

How this works (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 5 years ago | (#27613597)

First you put your lungs in the dome, along with your weed which you light and then you slide the other half of the dome over and let the lungs fill up with smoke.

Full System (2, Interesting)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | about 5 years ago | (#27613811)

How long do you think it will be before they are able to do a full system like this. Or at least the brain, eyes, lungs, and heart. That would be amazing!

It would also make a good goofy syfy movie where the bodyless organs go around and commit crimes. It would get away with it because nobody would be able to identify it (lack of facial features).

Re:Full System (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | about 5 years ago | (#27614095)

How long do you think it will be before they are able to do a full system like this. Or at least the brain, eyes, lungs, and heart. That would be amazing!

Not too long ago I saw a documentary on Robert J. White [wikipedia.org] and related "experiments". I don't know if it was him or one of the Russians with similar projects, but they actually kept a monkey brain alive outside the head. Yes, there was video footage...

Re:Full System (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27614317)


god I hope you were being facetious when you said that otherwise I will be taking your geek card RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

I bet you text with things like "ur" and "r u" and the like.

I thought it was bad when "wrestling" showed up on SciFi, this change to SyFy was the last straw.

syfy sounds like something furries would do to eachother.


Re:Full System (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 5 years ago | (#27614431)

It would also make a good goofy syfy movie where the bodyless organs go around and commit crimes. It would get away with it because nobody would be able to identify it (lack of facial features).

I can't help but think that the bodyless organs might stand out a bit in a police lineup, owing to having no body... facial features or not.

Re:Full System (1)

shrikel (535309) | about 5 years ago | (#27615313)

The police are legally required to fill the lineup with people (or in this case, maybe I should say entities) that match the verbal description given by the witness. If the witness described "a bodyless set of human organs", first of all the police would need to find several sets for the lineup, and second ... how the heck are you going to distinguish between them? (Assuming, of course, no major coloration differences like smoker lungs or something.) I'd think that you'd be concerned enough about being attacked by a disembodied brain that you wouldn't have the presence of mind (ha!) to memorize its noodle pattern.

Re:Full System (2, Interesting)

quantumghost (1052586) | about 5 years ago | (#27615121)

How long do you think it will be before they are able to do a full system like this. Or at least the brain, eyes, lungs, and heart. That would be amazing!

Quite a while. Part of the success they had with lungs is that they don't require blood...or more precisely hemoglobin which carries oxygen...so they can get away with just "feeding" the lung nutrients as they oxygenate themselves.

There are currently systems used that keep solutions circulating through transplant kidneys, that help keep them viable longer.

Brains pose unique problems. We don't have the technology to reconnect them so they function properly...and no prospect of fixing this anytime soon.

Re:Full System (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#27618017)

Well... I think the key part is keeping the brain alive which they already do during Cardiopulmonary bypass [wikipedia.org]

Lungs and heart can be replaced (not easily since that requires a donar), but if the brain dies, thats it.

I remember seeing an old Soviet film where they did this to a dog and had an oxygen machine keeping the dogs head filled with oxygenated blood.

Hmmm (2, Interesting)

TrebleJunkie (208060) | about 5 years ago | (#27613855)

Odd. Video looks kind of fake, especially given that the first cut has was I'm presuming to be a vacuum cover _off_ of the device. Plus the lungs are way too perfect looking -- nothing like the more ragged looking ones in the photo. *shrug* Not doubting it works, just don't think the video's authentic, more an "artist's representation" of what the system does.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27614139)

First of all, what makes you think it's a "vacuum cover" rather than just a cover?

Secondly, not all lungs are built alike.

You should find this video on YouTube and be the first one to cry "FAKE!" :)

Re:Hmmm (1)

TrebleJunkie (208060) | about 5 years ago | (#27616831)

Because lungs don't expand and contract on their own, they rely in a change in pressue in the chest cavity to drawn in or expell air, if I remember my high school biologo correctly. You would either need to force air into and out of them directly, or create/dispel a vacuum around them to create a more "natural" operation. My money's on the vacuum, because it's got to be easier on the tissues. Also, I would suspect a vacuum because it's got to be cleaner than leaving the organ exposed to the open air -- imagine someone sneezing on your lungs ---- ew!!!! In a transplant situation, you'd want to keep the organ as sterile as is possible.

Re:Hmmm (1)

profplump (309017) | about 5 years ago | (#27617199)

Modern ventilators are all positive-pressure systems. The only negative-pressure option is the iron lung. Presumably these lungs are hooked up to a pretty standard modern ventilator.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27619611)

The cover in the video is far from air-tight (it has big holes to pass tubes through), so this must use a positive pressure system.

A question: (2, Insightful)

maillemaker (924053) | about 5 years ago | (#27614151)

Why did one of the lungs looked like it was sliced or cracked?

Re:A question: (4, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | about 5 years ago | (#27614275)

If I recall correctly (health class was a long, long time ago), each lung is separated into 2 or 3 lobes. They're supposed to look like that.

Re:A question: (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27614591)

Yes, the closer lung is the right lung. It is divided into three lobes, with the transverse and oblique fissures dividing them.

Re:A question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27617525)

Those mad scientists would be doing the lung recipient a favor if they kept the lungs "wet" with something akin to serous fluid to reduce the friction at the lung fissures (and also where they are resting on the plate) during the expansion and contraction.

Already been done, and ever more freakier stuff.. (4, Insightful)

Faw (33935) | about 5 years ago | (#27614471)

and it was all done in the 1950s. Search for Doctor Sergei S. Bryukhonenko.

Experiments in the Revival of Organisms [wikipedia.org]

A link to the movie in google video [google.com]

Re:Already been done, and ever more freakier stuff (1)

Krneki (1192201) | about 5 years ago | (#27615145)

Considering the time and location of his experiments I think some concerns might be raised.

I bet this guy makes Victor Frankenstein look like a noob. But I could be wrong ofc.

Puts the Lungs in the Dome... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27618223)

It puts the lungs inside the dome, or else it gets the hose again....

Totally awesome for transplant patients (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27618703)

My wife had a successful double-lung transplant six months ago (she has Cystic Fibrosis) at the age of 34. She was down to ~15% lung function by then. We were on the transplant waiting list for almost two years - she was on supplemental oxygen that whole time and was slowly getting worse and worse.

Its absolutely amazing how different things are for her now. We hope to be able to thank our donor's family someday soon.

I hope that this technique will help save someone else who is waiting for a transplant. Lungs are some of the hardest donor organs to find because they are so easily damaged.

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