History of lung transplantation

Federico Venuta, Dirk Van Raemdonck


Lung transplantation nowadays is a well-accepted and routine treatment for well selected patients with terminal respiratory disease. However, it took several decades of experimental studies and clinical attempts to reach this success. In this paper, we describe the early experimental activity from the mid- forties until the early sixties. The rst clinical attempt in humans was reported by Hardy and Webb in 1963 followed by others with short survival only except for one case by Derom et al. who lived for 10 months. Long-term successes were not reported until after the discovery of cyclosporine as a new immunosuppressive agent. Successful heart-lung transplantation (HLTx) for pulmonary vascular disease was performed by the Stanford group starting in 1981 while the Toronto group described good outcome after single-lung transplantation (SLTx) for pulmonary brosis in 1983 and after double-lung transplantation for emphysema in 1986. Further evolution in surgical techniques and in transplant type for the various forms of end-stage lung diseases are reviewed. The evolution in lung transplantation still continues nowadays with the use of pulmonary allografts coming from living-related donors, from donors after circulatory death, or after prior assessment and reconditioning during ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) in an attempt to overcome the critical shortage of suitable organs. Early outcome has signi cantly improved over the last three decades. Better treatment and prevention of chronic lung allograft dysfunction will hopefully result in further improvement of long-term survival after lung transplantation.