Upgrading imperfect lungs: Healthy Lung Month10/24/2023
Lungs: Vital to life
Unhealthy or damaged lungs can make it difficult for the body to get the oxygen it needs to survive. Lung disease takes 15,000 lives each year. Transplanted lungs provide people suffering from cystic fibrosis, emphysema and pulmonary embolism with new life and the chance to breathe deeply again—often it’s the only option left.
During Healthy Lung Month, each October, we shed light on lung transplants, groundbreaking technology and share the stories of our many transplant warriors.
Upgrading Imperfect lungs
Lung transplants serve as the only medical intervention for people with end-stage lung disease. The demand for lung transplants exceeds the number of donated ones and because of issues discovered after recovery from donors, only 20% of available donor lungs are transplanted.
Lung Bioengineering, a biotech company focused on increasing successful lung transplants, estimates that 40% of unutilized lungs could still save lives.
Lung Bioengineering introduced a technology called ex-vivo lung perfusion (EVLP). This new technology mimics the lungs’ normal function. This allows medical professionals to improve lung function outside of the body. Prior to EVLP technology, the acceptable perseveration time of lungs was six hours through standard practice. With the help of EVLP, the preservation time extends to 16 hours!
A breath of new life
Omar Hashem, a lover of photography, steps into focus to share why he is still here today. A double lung transplant saved his life.
Photography, an art form revered worldwide, was a difficult path for him. He grew up in Saudi Arabia when movie theaters were forbidden. Omar’s parents were not immediately supportive of his curiosity about film. Then, he got a lung disease diagnosis and was transplanted. After surviving post-transplant cancer, he required a second double-lung transplant.
Omar, despite the hardships, never lost sight of his goals. He now has a bachelor’s degree in film and media from Arizona State University, a master’s degree, and plans to pursue a PhD.
“I’m so thankful to the person who gave me their lungs,” Omar says. “I pray for them every day, and I always mention them whenever I achieve something in my life.”
Sign up. Save Lives.
There are thousands of stories like Omar’s that showcase the gift of organ donation. Every 9 minutes, someone is added to the transplant waiting list. In Arizona alone, approximately 2,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant. You can make a difference by registering as an organ and tissue donor. This generous act is a choice—a choice to save lives.
There are no age limits or health requirements for hope and generosity. Anyone can register! Join the DonateLifeAZ Registry when you apply for or renew a driver’s license or state ID at an ADOT MVD office or select third-party offices. You can also register online today at DonateLifeAZ.org.