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Phoenix hospital performs rare ‘lung in box’ transplant

PHOENIX — It’s a first for Arizona: Doctors at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix have performed a “lung in a box” transplant.

Instead of packing the donor’s lungs on ice, St. Joseph’s Dr. Michael Smith said a device called the Organ Care System was used to transport the lungs to the hospital for them to be implanted in a patient.

“We still give the cold preservation within the donor’s body,” said Smith. “Once we take the lungs out of the body, we put them on a machine which perfuses the lungs with blood and oxygenates them with a ventilator.”

Essentially, it keeps the lungs breathing outside of the body.

The recipient is 53-year-old lupus patient Estelle Ellington of Hawaii. She has been in St. Joseph’s for two weeks and doctors said she is doing well post-surgery.

The hospital is one of five in the country doing clinical trials on the machine.