Saturday 10 December 2016

An Irish medical first: Make-up artist with cystic fibrosis gets transplant with 'washed' organs

Published 16/03/2016 | 13:00

Leigh Bagnell, a patient with cystic fibrosis who received Ireland’s first Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion Transplantation at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (MMUH), Dublin
Photo: gareth chaney Collins
Leigh Bagnell, a patient with cystic fibrosis who received Ireland’s first Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion Transplantation at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (MMUH), Dublin Photo: gareth chaney Collins
Leigh Bagnall from Drogheda, spoke today of her new lease of life and her good health, months after having the surgery. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Consultant Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon Karen Redmond with Leigh Bagnall, from Drogheda, Co. Louth Picture: Caroline Quinn
Consultant Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon Karen Redmond with Leigh Bagnall, from Drogheda, Co. Louth Picture: Caroline Quinn
Consultant Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon Karen Redmond with Leigh Bagnall, from Drogheda, Co. Louth Picture: Caroline Quinn

A 20-YEAR-OLD make-up artist student with cystic fibrosis has become the first patient in Ireland to undergo a transplant with lungs which were subject to an advanced reconditioning treatment.

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The double lung transplant took place in the Mater Hospital and involved organs which might otherwise have gone to waste but were "washed" for several hours making them ready for surgery.

It is a technique which has the potential to dramatically increase the availability of donor organs.

The patient, Leigh Bagnall from Drogheda, spoke today of her new lease of life and her good health, months after having the surgery.

Consultant Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon Karen Redmond with Leigh Bagnall, from Drogheda, Co. Louth Picture: Caroline Quinn
Consultant Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon Karen Redmond with Leigh Bagnall, from Drogheda, Co. Louth Picture: Caroline Quinn

"Firstly I would like to thank all the surgeons and staff at the Mater Hospital, and of course my donor and their family. I am forever indebted to them. Since undergoing the surgery I have felt absolutely fantastic; it really has given me a new life," she said.

"It was only two years ago I was forced to drop out my college course and was on full time oxygen. Fast forward post-surgery and I am now off oxygen and fully intend on returning to college in September to study make-up artistry.

Consultant Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon Karen Redmond with Leigh Bagnall, from Drogheda, Co. Louth Picture: Caroline Quinn
Consultant Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon Karen Redmond with Leigh Bagnall, from Drogheda, Co. Louth Picture: Caroline Quinn

"Initially I was cautious when I heard the lungs I would be receiving would be undergoing a treatment to restore them, but once the process was explained to me and I could see it for myself I immediately felt at ease. It really is amazing what EVLP can do and gives me hope for the future of CF treatment in this country”.

The technique is known as ex-vivo lung Perfusion transplantation (EVLP). It reconditions marginal donor lungs outside the body before surgery.

Consultant Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon Karen Redmond with Leigh Bagnall, from Drogheda, Co. Louth Picture: Caroline Quinn
Consultant Thoracic and Lung Transplant Surgeon Karen Redmond with Leigh Bagnall, from Drogheda, Co. Louth Picture: Caroline Quinn

The donated organs undergo innovative therapy whereby the lungs are reconditioned outside the body before transplantation to improve the quality of the organ, making donor lungs that were previously unsuitable for transplant safe for transplant.

The conversion rate of lungs that are successfully reconditioned and transplanted post EVLP is at least 50pc

It means that or every two organ donors that are currently deemed unsuitable for lung transplant, the processes of EVLP can restore the lungs of one organ donor for lung transplant, dramatically increasing the size of the current donor pool.

This ground breaking and historic double lung transplant was led by consultant thoracic and lung transplant surgeon Karen Redmond.

She said: “Today’s announcement marks a hugely significant milestone in the history of the transplant programme in the Mater Hospital and for the Ireland East Hospital Group.

"The practice of Ex-Vivo Lung Perfusion to recondition lungs is still in its infancy, however going forward has the potential to significantly increase the availability of donor lungs for transplantation in Ireland.

"With appropriate resources, the lung transplant group's has the potential to perform more and more lifesaving procedures year on year, with record high numbers for 2015 already achieved.”

She pointed to the huge shortage of viable lungs available in comparison to the number of patients awaiting transplants in Ireland.

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