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Ca. man receives first 'breathing' lung donation

Wednesday - 3/20/2013, 2:27pm  ET

WASHINGTON - A man in California has received the first breathing lung transplant.

Fernando Padilla could barely breathe or walk short distances before he had his lung transplant at Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center. He got the call he'd been waiting for in November 2012 and made his way to the hospital, according to a news release.

Doctors told Padilla when he arrived that his lung was hooked up to a portable organ-preservation system. The experimental system keeps the donor lungs breathing outside the body during transport, the release says.

"If they've got new technology to deliver the lungs still breathing, I think that would be better than trying to wake them back up again after being on ice," said Padilla, a former construction worker, who had helped build the very same hospital where he was now a patient. "I'm just following technology."

The device monitors how the lungs are functioning during their transport and keeps them in a warm, breathing state full of oxygen until they arrive at the recipient hospital, the release says.

"Lungs are very sensitive and can easily be damaged during the donation process," says Dr. Abbas Ardehali, director of the heart and lung transplantation program at UCLA.

"The cold-storage method does not allow for reconditioning of the lungs, but this promising technology enables us to potentially improve the function of the donor lungs before they are placed in the recipient."

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