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Damaged Lungs Repaired In Four Hours At The Ohio State University

Updated on April 26, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish offers 25+ years successful experience in Medicine; Health- and I/O Psychology; STEM courses, and Aerospace Education (CAP).


Lungs Under Attack

Industrialized nations are replete with byproducts that can badly affect the lungs of humans and animals. The United States is no exception—while China may be today's worst offender, and London UK's pea soup atmosphere was the worst culprit in the early 1900s.

Lungs are damaged by a number of environmental attackers that include:

  • Pollution
  • Smoke inhalation and heat damage at a variety of fires
  • Radiation
  • Water and debris in drowning
  • Mining dust, plaster and concrete dust
  • Various chemicals
  • Residues from the oil and gas industry
  • Asbestos
  • Silica-related materials
  • Medical conditions like Cystic Fibrosis

Many of the public point to smoking as the worst offender in lung disease; but, for example, the risk of lung cancer is 8,000% greater for persons exposed to automotive exhaust fumes combined with cigarette smoke than for people exposed to smoking alone (CDC findings, 1994).

A big problem today is that lungs of transplant donors are severely damaged more often than not.

How Can We Save Our Lungs?

Methods of Making New Lungs

We have heard much in the last decade about transplants, and creating artificial and real replacement organs for the human body.

The most publicized methods of replacing lungs are these:

  • Transplanting healthy donor organs, but many donor lungs are rejected as too damaged.
  • Growing new organ tissues via surgery, using extracellular matrix pig powder.
  • Growing new tissues in the lab from stem cells in petri dishes.
  • 3D printing new organs.

Problem: Over 80% of donor lungs are unusable without rejuvenation treatment.


Lung Damage in Personal Experience

My parents were unusual.

They each smoked five packs of cigarettes a day - a whole carton daily - for the last decade of my youth. During my early years, they each smoked about 1-3 packs per day.

I benefited from their habit by catching continuous colds, two bouts of bronchial pneumonia, and a bronchial infection by the age of 16. Will I need new lungs in the future? Hopefully not, but I and others like me might need them. Fortunately, help is on the way.

We do not yet have a way of fixing damaged lungs within our bodies, but The Ohio State University repairs damaged donor lungs in a three-foot-diameter bubble with a simple three-ingredient treatment recipe. The process takes only three to four hours and results in a pair of lungs that look new.

The Magic Three-Ingredient Recipe: Steen Solution

"New Insights into the Steen Solution Properties: Breakthrough in Antioxidant Effects via NOX2 Downregulation" in Oxidative Medicine and Cell Longevity. 2014; 2014: 242180. Authors: Roberto Carnevale,


This study shows that Steen solution has antioxidant properties.It contains a derivative of human blood, oxygen, and Dextran 40, and oxygen.


Antibiotics have been added, at least by OSU, since 2014.


The Xvivo Perfusion System with Steen solution was FDA approved 5/13/2013.

Lung Perfusion and Rejuvenation

"Perfusion" is the process in which capillaries in body tissue are flooded with blood and it has been used in research and treatment several times. Other types of perfusion exist. In an example from nature, cerebrospinal fluid perfuses the brain, flooding its tissues.

to save damaged donor lungs, the ex-vivo (outside the body) process is used with only a derivative of human blood and not whole blood.

Perfusion of donated lungs with Steen solution and antibiotics has begun at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in 2016.

The total procedure is rather simple:

  • Damaged donor lungs are set into a sterile plastic bubble or dome about three feet in diameter.
  • The dome is attached to a ventilator, a pump, and some filters.
  • The pump inflates the lungs and then floods them with the helpful Steen solution.
  • The tissues and their passages becomes clean and dry in about three to four hours at most.

Hope For Others

The Steen solution perfusion process is also used for the human liver and for delivering chemotherapy to lung cancer patients. The solution will be used on other organs in the future.

Lung Cleaning Since 2000

The best treatment solution is non-toxic and non-flammable.

Simply put, it is a combination of 1) a physiological salt containing human serum albumin derived from blood, a harmless food additive called Dextran 40, antibiotics, all used in conjunction with oxygen. The only related hazard of any kind is that if we spill it on the floor, it is slippery.

OSU's first such rejuvenation and transplant occurred in December 2015, for a gentleman in his late 50s who had previously already had a heart transplant. The lung transplant was quite a success as well.

The second rejuvenation and transplant combination treatment was completed at the OSU Ross Heart Hospital on September 4, 2016 and was a success.

Previously, a successful case was completed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri with surgeons coming from nearby Washington University in November 2015 with a system branded as Xvivo.

The origins of the treatment solution extend back to 1998 at the Xvivo company and before that, the concept is traced to some original research in 1935 that was shelved.

The first successful lung transplant using this procedure occurred in Lund, Sweden in 2000 and the first in the USA occurred in 2011.

Hazardous Only When Wet

Be careful of Steen solution -- You could fall.
Be careful of Steen solution -- You could fall. | Source
Donor Lungs in a Treatment Bubble
Donor Lungs in a Treatment Bubble | Source

Clinical Trials

A total of 16 hospitals are trying out the Xvivo Perfusion System in clinical trials to save donor lungs.

At the University Of Chicago, Lungs Are Cleaned

What Is Your Choice?

Which treatment would you prefer?

See results

American Lung Transplant Registries

Chronic Diseases Of the Lungs

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Centrilobular EmphysemaAsbestosisSarcoidosisBlack Lung DiseaseChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)Silicosis
Centrilobular Emphysema
Centrilobular Emphysema | Source
Asbestosis | Source
Sarcoidosis | Source
Black Lung Disease
Black Lung Disease | Source
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) | Source
Silicosis | Source

Computerized Data System

"A national computer system and strict standards are in place to ensure ethical and fair distribution of organs. Organs are matched by blood and tissue typing, organ size, medical urgency, waiting time and geographic location."

— United Network for Organ Sharing; 700 N. 4th Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219

Doctors hope to save more lives from lung disease deaths very soon.

COPD killed Leonard Nimoy 30 years after he stopped smoking. While he died in February 2015, the Steen solution treatment option was just coming under clinical trials, perhaps too late to help the beloved actor and artist. However, it is unkown whether he was on a lung transplant waiting list or considered that option.

The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients for all organs is found online at

American Lung Transplant Success

Based on the first six months of 2015, the latest period for which data is available, the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients lists 76 hospitals that are equipped and certified to do successful lung transplants.

Those facilities with the best survival rates post-transplants include one site, but 74 of the facilities have a rate termed "As Expected." The best rate is found at:

  • University of California San Francisco Medical Center, San Francisco, California

This hospital is the only facility that has a "Better Than Expected" survival rating one year post-transplant.

  • Reference: USFC Newsletter: UCSF Adult Lung Transplant Program Ranked Highest for Patient Survival. May 8, 2014.

The hospital (UCSF) is unusual for its willingness to accept patients who have been turned away by other medical centers, as well as for its public mission to research new approaches to treatment and share the results with other institutions.

— Jasleen Kukreja, MD

The Opportunities For Lung Transplants In the United States

US State
Number of Hospitals Doing Lung Transplantation
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Data is based on the reporting period of January 1, 2013 - June 30, 2015, a term of 30 months, gained through the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

Most Lung Transplants In States With Most Facilities, January 2013 - June 2015

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation - 242

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center - 214

The Methodist Hospital, Houston - 203

University of California at Los Angeles Med Center - 189

UT Southwestern Medical Center/William P. Clements Jr. University, Dallas - 159

Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia - 117

Hospital at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia - 114

University of California San Francisco Med Center - 106

Other Important Facilities Do Large Numbers of Transplants

North Carolina may have only two lung transplant facilities, but one of them performed 269 of the procedures during the reporting period and is located in the important, innovative Research Triangle.

By contrast, The Ohio State University had performed only 40 lung transplants during the reporting period, the Steen solution used only once and only in the last six months.

If you need lung treatment, consult with your trusted healthcare provider to receive the best information and referrals.

Mayo Clinic Lung Restoration Center In Jacksonville

Professionals are developing new lung treatment departments in hospitals across the United States. One such department is the Lung Restoration Center in Jacksonville. the ground breaking for the facility began during August 2016.

Look for additional centers for lung treatment to open in your area.

Good News For Sick Lungs

1) Several methods for replacing damaged lungs exist and new techniques are being invented.

2) Some methods of treating sick lungs can also be used to treat other unhealthy organs.

3) Increasing numbers of hospitals in America are developing lung treatment and transplant programs.

© 2016 Patty Inglish


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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      This is amazing. It's like a deep cleaning for the human body. Sorry to hear that you were exposed to so much smoke growing up.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 months ago from North America

      @FlourishAnyway - It's good to see that we are able to clean up some organs for reuse and even create new ones to end people's suffering. Medicine should do more of this, more often, and I think the whole health and medical field will do so.

      After you get away from heavy smoke, your lungs can often clear themselves and I think mine did that! But I sure was tired of having a new cold every couple of weeks; and pneumonia of any kind is exhausting. The TV ads about pollution and smoking that have a baby coughing with asthma almost give me a panic attack!

    • connieow profile image

      Connie S Owens 9 months ago from El Cajon, CA

      This is amazing to me. At least when I die and my organs are donated, I know at least my lungs will be cleaned and ready for use. Tho I thought they had to be implanted within a period of time or the tissue dies. Still science is always a wow factor.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 months ago from North America

      @connieow - WOW is right! Xvivo company has specialized in extending the shelf life of donated organs, making the process better and organs longer lasting since they began in 1998. The company will likely come up with some even more astounding techniques.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 9 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Patty, That was a lot of amazing information to take in. Some of it, I have to confess, I didn't understand. The parts I did understand I thought was very encouraging. I watched the video and thought it was great to see those lungs going in and out. I hope your lungs do not get affected by all the smoke you had to inhale. Thanks for all the work and information.

      Blessings to you.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 9 months ago from Nashville Tn.


      Am I to understand that 'lung cleaning' is available to people living with damaged lungs? Or is this process only available to donated organs. Either way this is great news. With this procedure there is hope for other unhealthy organs.

      Fascinating article which I will share and thank you.


    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 months ago from North America

      @Rachel Alba - It's an amazing process, isn't it!?

      Instead of rejecting damaged donor lungs - those that actually turn out to have COPD or some such - doctors can sort of wash them out in the plastic dome, using a cleaning solution of a just one substance taken out of blood, some food additive, some antibiotics, and oxygen. Then they can transplant the lungs. I hope a lot of those donor lungs that are damaged can be saved.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 months ago from North America

      @vocal coach - Hi Audrey!

      So far, the cleansing process is used only on donor lungs from deceased organ donors. However, I think that just as we can do cleanings through kidney dialysis and plasmapheresis, that one day we will be able to clean the lungs inside the living person who suffers from COPD and other lung disorders. That's my happy prediction - fingers crossed and prayers going up.

      I think my own lungs are OK - a miracle of sorts. :)

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 9 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      This article is so interesting - and heartening, too, for those with damaged lungs.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 9 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Audrey....Thank you! I was just about to ask Patty the same question. This is stunning news. Medical Science just continues to get more and more amazing! Very positive news. Peace, Paula

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 9 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Patty. This is both interesting and irritating. We cause so much damage to ourselves, and then legions of energy, and talent are expended looking for solutions to problems that we ourselves (people) caused.

      Again, you enlighten.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 9 months ago from The Caribbean

      Not ready to choose a treatment, but it is encouraging to know that they exist. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 9 months ago from Texas

      Patty, what an interesting hub, I too grew up with mom smoking and I am allergic to tobacco, and would sneeze, wheeze and cough when she smoked around me.

      Mom use to sing in a night club in Nashville and when she lost her voice and was told smoking was the cause, she quit.

      I hope you have not suffered long term affects from the second hand smoke.

      Blessings and hugs dear friend.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 9 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Patty, this is a most fascinating hub about new help to repair damaged lungs. As a proud Ohioian, I'm glad OSU and Cleveland Clinic is paving the way in medical science. Thanks for sharing. Kudos!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 months ago from North America

      @BlossomSB, fpherj48, mckbirdbks, MsDora, Shyron E Shenko, and Kristen Howe:

      Since studying the film "Repo Men" about repossessing unpaid-for artificial organs and looking into the NASA Spinoff medical inventions, I'm fascinated with real organs and ways of refurbishing old organs that our hospitals and universities are giving us. This is all a blessing.

      It's great that Ohio has a Space Corridor and NASA installations in Cleveland and elsewhere!

      Docs say my lungs are fine - yippee!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 9 months ago

      I have heard positive stories on stem cell research in helping one's body heal. I think that is the treatment I would prefer. This was interesting and well written. Your story on growing up in a polluted environment is similar to ones I've heard others share. Smoking affects those around you as well. Blessings.

    • profile image

      Timetraveler2 9 months ago

      If the survival rate for lung transplant patients is only one year, this seems a lot to put a person through for such a poor result. Years ago I almost was a candidate for a double lung transplant, but was told it would buy me five years, not one. They did not have this process then, but luckily, I had been misdiagnosed and did not need the surgery. I know so many people right now with cancer. If this can cure it, I hope they hurry! Great and very interesting article, per your usual.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 months ago from North America

      @Timetraveler2 - I am surely glad that you did not need the surgery and wish you good health for many years. Admittedly, I don't know the official average survival rate for lung transplant either with or without the rejuvenation process. Mentioning cancer reminds me that several bioprinting and regenerative medicine hospitals/companies can print out tumors to work on to find that final cure for cancers of all kinds. Between the rejuvenation process/transplant and 3D printing, I think cancer will be defeated.

    • profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 8 months ago


      I voted for the 'stem cell's option even though it's probably some years away as even with 'cleaning the lungs' and 3d printing there's still the issue of rejection!

      It was fascinating though to read of the breakthroughs in this area.

      I lost a mate a couple of years ago through lung cancer, he'd never smoked, but his parents did, and his doctor told him it WAS the second hand smoke!

      Great hub

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