Self-breathing pig lungs and a soprano

Toronto continues to surprise me. I’m constantly reminded of what an amazing hub of innovation and research it is – from environmental, technology and social entrepreneurs to trailblazers in medicine, we’ve got them all!

Organ transplantation has become an increasingly important area of intrigue for me in recent years, and so I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the miraculous exploits of the Lung Transplantation team at the Toronto General Hospital, led by thoracic surgeon Dr. Shav Keshavjee.

Building on a rich tradition of hosptial firsts (first single and double lung transplants and first artifical lung), Keshavjee is currently tackling the mind-boggling problem of decay in lungs harvested from donors before they reach the recipient. He has developed a successful Lung Perfusion system that enables preservation of the organs for up to six hours outside the donor body.

But he hasn’t stopped there.

He is currently busy using gene therapy to actually modify and optimize donor lungs so that they may have the greatest chance for success in the recipient’s body! If all goes well, in the future surgeons may be able to remove injured/diseased lungs, repair them outside the body, and put them back.

Not only will this research help improve the odds of lung transplantation, but also other organs such as the kidneys and many more.

Watch this surreal demonstration of the self-breathing pig lungs at the TEDMED 2010 conference by the man himself!

Are you living in the moment?

Does the dis-ease in your body dictate the outcome of your life experience or do your mind, your passions, and your spirit have a say?

The oft-quoted, much-touted, and pretty jaded “mind-body connection” and its effects on health and disease, takes on a new life (literally and figuratively) as soprano Charity Tillemann-Dick, a double lung transplant recipient (one of Dr. Shav Keshavjee’s success stories) brilliantly demonstrates in her TEDMED 2010 talk.