Docs work to sal­vage in­fected or­gans

Edmonton Sun - - LIFE -

Re­tired sub­way and bus driver Stan­ley De Fre­itas had just cel­e­brated his 70th birthday when he started cough­ing, tir­ing eas­ily and feel­ing short of breath.

He was di­ag­nosed with pul­monary fi­bro­sis, a se­vere scar­ring of the lungs, and put on the wait­ing list for a trans­plant.

“Life be­came un­bear­able. From the time I got up in the morn­ing un­til when I went to bed at night, I strug­gled through ev­ery breath of air,” De Fre­itas, now 74, told Reuters from his home in Toronto.

Af­ter two years, De Fre­itas was of­fered a lung, with one sig­nif­i­cant down­side: the donor had hep­ati­tis C.

In Oc­to­ber 2017, he be­came the first pa­tient en­rolled in a just pub­lished study con­ducted at Toronto Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal test­ing a tech­nique that aimed to flush out and in­ac­ti­vate the hep­ati­tis C virus from donor lungs be­fore a trans­plant.

The re­search comes amid a spike in avail­able or­gans linked to the opi­oid over­dose cri­sis, mean­ing many are con­tam­i­nated by hep­ati­tis C, as the virus is com­monly spread by sharing nee­dles.

Since it can eas­ily in­fect an or­gan re­cip­i­ent, those or­gans are usu­ally dis­carded de­spite the ur­gent need.

Re­searchers are test­ing dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to sal­vage in­fected or­gans.

“Ev­ery day I get up ... I thank the doc­tors be­cause I am not sup­posed to be here,” he said. “I am sup­posed to be on the other side.”

FILES REUTERS

Tests are run on a pig’s lung be­ing in­flated at a lab run by the Univer­sity Health Net­work in Toronto in May.

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