Aug. 30, 2013

Lung Banks of America receives subcontract from UNC for lung transplant research

Lung Banks of America, a Chapel Hill-based organization, will receive a subcontract of $209,136 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for work on a National Institutes of Health grant to study use of a new source of donor lungs for transplantation. The subcontract is part of $4.1 million, 3-year NIH grant to UNC to support a clinical trial to study the recovery, assessment, and transplantation of lungs from victims of sudden death. Thomas M. Egan, M.D., M.Sc., Professor of Surgery at UNC, is Principal Investigator of the study.

Dr. Egan’s research has shown that, unlike other solid organs that are transplanted, lungs can live for hours after death because they do not require blood flow to provide oxygen. Lungs for transplant could be obtained from victims of sudden death (for example, people who have died in motor vehicle accidents or from cardiac arrest after heart attacks and strokes) – these are known as non-heart-beating donors. Currently, solid organs for transplant usually come from donors who have been on mechanical ventilation after brain death, but many of the lungs from these donors are not suitable for transplant because of inflammation and infection. Addressing the critical shortage of lungs for transplant would revolutionize lung transplantation. To promote this idea, Dr. Egan founded Lung Banks of America. He serves as President of the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.

“Lung Banks of America is very gratified to be part of this study that can lead to a very large increase in the available supply of lungs for transplant,” said Gordon Murray, M.D., Executive Director of the organization. “This will substantially increase the number of patients with chronic lung diseases that can be treated with lung transplants.”

Dr. Murray, of Southport, N.C., is a retired chest surgeon and is past President of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Lung Banks of America will perform throughput time analysis of lung recovery from victims of sudden death to minimize ischemic time (time without blood flow), and will analyze sudden deaths in Wake County, N.C., to ensure that all potential donors are identified. Lung Banks of America also will coordinate the practice of identifying potential non-heart-beating donors for lung donation in regional emergency rooms.

For several years, Lung Banks of America has helped to develop a program for lung donation from victims of sudden death in Wake County. This has required coordination among Emergency Medical Services, law enforcement, the state Medical Examiner’s office, and Carolina Donor Services, the regional organ procurement organization. Carolina Donor Services and Duke University (R. Duane Davis, M.D., principal investigator), are also recipients of subcontracts to participate in the UNC research project.

Lung Banks of America has also applied for a grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to develop web-based educational tools for groups that are involved in the non-heart-beating donor lung transplant process. This will facilitate moving the process to other centers outside of North Carolina.

For more information, please contact Gordon Murray, executive director, Lung Banks of America at