Damaged Lungs Can Be Repaired in Four Hours

Updated on November 15, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty uses advanced degrees in preventive medicine, psychology, and TCM in research and treatment for public and private health agencies.


How Can We Save Our Lungs?

Lungs Under Attack

Industrialized nations are replete with byproducts that can badly affect the lungs of humans and animals. The United States is no exception—though China may be today's worst offender, and London's pea soup atmosphere was the worst culprit in the early 1900s.

Lungs are damaged by a number of environmental attackers that include:

  • Pollution
  • Smoke inhalation and heat damage from fire
  • Radiation
  • Water and debris in drowning
  • Mining dust, plaster and concrete dust
  • Various chemicals
  • Residues from the oil and gas industry
  • Asbestos
  • Silica-related materials
  • Medical conditions like Cystic Fibrosis

Many of the public point to smoking as the worst offender in lung disease; but, for example, the risk of lung cancer is 8,000% greater for persons exposed to automotive exhaust fumes combined with cigarette smoke than for people exposed to smoking alone (CDC findings, 1994).

A big problem today is that lungs of transplant donors are severely damaged more often than not.

Transplantation Problem: Over 80% of donor lungs are unusable without rejuvenation treatment.

Methods of Making New Lungs

We have heard much in the last decade about transplants, and creating artificial and real replacement organs for the human body.

The most publicized methods of replacing lungs are these:

  • Transplanting healthy donor organs, but many donor lungs are rejected as too damaged.
  • Growing new organ tissues via surgery, using extracellular matrix pig powder.
  • Growing new tissues in the lab from stem cells in petri dishes.
  • 3D printing new organs.


New Treatment for Damaged Lungs

We do not yet have a way of fixing damaged lungs within our living bodies, but The Ohio State University repairs damaged donor lungs in a three-foot-diameter bubble with a simple three-ingredient treatment recipe.

The new process takes only three to four hours and results in a pair of lungs that look and act new. They function as if they had never been damaged.

The Magic Three-Ingredient Recipe: Steen Solution

A medical research study completed in 2014 (Carnevale, Roberto; et.al.) showed that a what we call "Steen solution" contains antioxidant properties. Bathing damaged lungs in this solution rejuvenates them to their original health.

The major ingredients are a derivative of human blood, oxygen, and Dextran 40. Most recently, after this study was completed, the Ohio State University added antibiotics to the solution as a preventative measure.

The official name for this treatment is the "Xvivo Perfusion System with Steen solution", which was FDA approved on May 13, 2013.

The next chapter of related research is likely a look into how to clean the damaged lungs of living patients.

Lung Perfusion and Rejuvenation

"Perfusion" is the process in which capillaries in body tissue are flooded with blood and it has been used in research and treatment several times. Other types of perfusion exist. In an example from nature, cerebrospinal fluid perfuses the brain, flooding its tissues.

to save damaged donor lungs, the ex-vivo (outside the body) process is used with only a derivative of human blood and not whole blood.

Perfusion of donated lungs with Steen solution and antibiotics has begun at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in 2016.

The total procedure is rather simple:

  • Damaged donor lungs are set into a sterile plastic bubble or dome about three feet in diameter.
  • The dome is attached to a ventilator, a pump, and some filters.
  • The pump inflates the lungs and then floods them with the helpful Steen solution.
  • The tissues and their passages becomes clean and dry in about three to four hours at most.

Applications for Other Organs

The Steen solution perfusion process is also used for the human liver and for delivering chemotherapy to lung cancer patients. The solution will be used on other organs in the future.

Donor Lungs in a Treatment Bubble. This process takes only three to four hours.
Donor Lungs in a Treatment Bubble. This process takes only three to four hours. | Source

Lung Cleaning Since 2000

The best treatment solution is non-toxic and non-flammable.

Simply put, it is a combination of 1) a physiological salt containing human serum albumin derived from blood, a harmless food additive called Dextran 40, antibiotics, all used in conjunction with oxygen. The only related hazard of any kind is that if we spill it on the floor, it is slippery.

OSU's first such rejuvenation and transplant occurred in December 2015, for a gentleman in his late 50s who had previously already had a heart transplant. The lung transplant was quite a success as well.

The second rejuvenation and transplant combination treatment was completed at the OSU Ross Heart Hospital on September 4, 2016 and was a success.

Previously, a successful case was completed at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri with surgeons coming from nearby Washington University in November 2015 with a system branded as Xvivo.

The origins of the treatment solution extend back to 1998 at the Xvivo company and before that, the concept is traced to some original research in 1935 that was shelved.

The first successful lung transplant using this procedure occurred in Lund, Sweden in 2000 and the first in the USA occurred in 2011.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chronic Diseases Of the Lungs. This slide shows Centrilobular Emphysema.AsbestosisSarcoidosisBlack Lung DiseaseChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)Silicosis
Chronic Diseases Of the Lungs. This slide shows Centrilobular Emphysema.
Chronic Diseases Of the Lungs. This slide shows Centrilobular Emphysema. | Source
Asbestosis | Source
Sarcoidosis | Source
Black Lung Disease
Black Lung Disease | Source
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) | Source
Silicosis | Source

During 2017, at least 16 hospitals effectively used the Xvivo Perfusion System in clinical trials to save donor lungs.

What Is Your Choice?

Which treatment would you prefer?

See results

American Lung Transplant Registries

Computerized Data System

"A national computer system and strict standards are in place to ensure ethical and fair distribution of organs. Organs are matched by blood and tissue typing, organ size, medical urgency, waiting time and geographic location."

— United Network for Organ Sharing; 700 N. 4th Street, Richmond VA

Doctors hope to save more lives from lung disease deaths very soon.

COPD killed Leonard Nimoy 30 years after he stopped smoking. While he died in February 2015, the Steen solution treatment option was just coming under clinical trials, perhaps too late to help the beloved actor and artist. However, it is unkown whether he was on a lung transplant waiting list or considered that option.

The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients for all organs is found online at www.srtr.org/

American Lung Transplant Success

Based on the first six months of 2015, the latest period for which data is available, the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients lists 76 hospitals that are equipped and certified to do successful lung transplants.

Those facilities with the best survival rates post-transplants include one site, but 74 of the facilities have a rate termed "As Expected." The best rate is found at:

  • University of California San Francisco Medical Center, San Francisco, California

This hospital is the only facility that has a "Better Than Expected" survival rating one year post-transplant.

  • Reference: USFC Newsletter: UCSF Adult Lung Transplant Program Ranked Highest for Patient Survival. May 8, 2014.

The hospital (UCSF) is unusual for its willingness to accept patients who have been turned away by other medical centers, as well as for its public mission to research new approaches to treatment and share the results with other institutions.

— Jasleen Kukreja, MD

The Opportunities For Lung Transplants In the United States

US State
Number of Hospitals Doing Lung Transplantation
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Data is based on the reporting period of January 1, 2013 - June 30, 2015, a term of 30 months, gained through the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients.

Most Lung Transplants in States With Most Facilities, January 2013 - June 2015

The following medical centers performed over 100 successful lung transplants during the target period:

  1. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation: 242
  2. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: 214
  3. The Methodist Hospital, Houston: 203
  4. University of California at Los Angeles Med Center: 189
  5. UT Southwestern Medical Center/William P. Clements Jr. University, Dallas: 159
  6. Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia : 117
  7. Hospital at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia: 114
  8. University of California San Francisco Med Center: 106

Other Important Facilities do Large Numbers of Transplants

North Carolina may have only two lung transplant facilities, but one of them performed 269 of the procedures during the reporting period and is located in the important, innovative Research Triangle.

By contrast, The Ohio State University had performed only 40 lung transplants during the reporting period, the Steen solution used only once and only in the last six months.

If you need lung treatment, consult with your trusted healthcare provider to receive the best information and referrals.

Mayo Clinic Lung Restoration Center In Jacksonville

Professionals are developing new lung treatment departments in hospitals across the United States. One such department is the Lung Restoration Center in Jacksonville. the ground breaking for the facility began during August 2016.

Look for additional centers for lung treatment to open in your area.

Good News For Sick Lungs

Much hope exists for curing and preventing the diseases of the human lung and other organs, because:

  1. Several methods for replacing damaged lungs exist and new techniques are being invented.
  2. Some methods of treating sick lungs can also be used to treat other unhealthy organs.
  3. Increasing numbers of hospitals in America are developing lung treatment and transplant programs.


  • Carnevale, Roberto; et.al. "New Insights into the Steen Solution Properties: Breakthrough in Antioxidant Effects via NOX2 Downregulation"; Oxidative Medicine and Cell Longevity. 2014: 242180.
  • Gever, John. "Technique to Repair Damaged Donor Lungs for Graft Passes Clinical Test." MedPage Today. Toronto. December 19, 2008. www.medpagetoday.com/surgery/transplantation/12245 Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  • Maxwell, Kate. "Drug can make damaged lungs regrow." Daily Mail UK. April 25, 2006. www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-384152/Drug-make-damaged-lungs-regrow.html Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  • Steen, S.; et.al. "First Human Transplantation of a Nonacceptable Donor Lung After Reconditioning Ex Vivo." The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Volume 83, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 2191-2194

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

  • What is the age limit for receiving a lung Transplant?

    Until recently, age 65 was accepted as the natural age limit. Currently, the Mayo Clinic website includes a statement that says for anyone above the age of 65, each case will be considered individually. This gives hope to older people.

    A recent National Institutes of Health article via NCBI sites a recent study that followed eligible recipients below age 65, and above age 65. Generally, those recipients ages 75 to 79 showed that lowest success and survival rates (Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2015 Aug;100(2):443-51).

    One should ask their doctor about eligibility and survival chances to be certain, but older eligible people may have better chances in the future as medicine advances. My hope is that we can learn to clean and restore lung health in the future without transplantation.

© 2016 Patty Inglish MS


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      13 months ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I Kelly! I am waiting for the day that The Ohio State University perfects a related system for cleaning the lungs of living patients. Breathing problems are some of the worst conditions we can experience, in my opinion.

      I remember a medical class in 1994 in which we looked at statistics showing us that smoking in the presence of truck and auto exhaust (like working as a mechanic and smoking in the garage) or in the presence of pollution increases the likelihood of all lung cancers by 8000%.

    • KC3Lady profile image

      Kelly Ann Christensen 

      13 months ago from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas

      Patty, thanks for this informative article. I had no idea such a thing exists. I especially find it interesting the distinctions in appearance between a smoker's lung and asbestos.

      My late mother died a few years ago of small cell lung cancer, smoker's lung cancer. It is a very aggressive disease. While the media never makes the designation, I recall in the American Cancer Society literature at that time stating 80% of lung cancers are large cell, a much less aggressive cancer, and the other 20% are small cell smoker's lung cancer.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      2 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Hi aesta1 -- I hope we advance enough to cure COPD, lung cancer, and all breathing difficulties! Thanks for writing a comment and here's to healthy lungs!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Patty, I had been reading on 3-D printing but I missed this one as I have not been following it lately. I am blown away by the many ways one can have new lungs now.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      2 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Michael Long - Something like that is a good idea. Some sort of lung bypass similar to machines used to circulate blood during a heart procedure would be perfect! I hope some medical scientists have thought of it. I will check around for that info.

    • profile image

      Michael Long 

      2 years ago

      Perhaps one day lungs will be removed,while the body is on life support and the lungs cleaned with a return to the host body.Little or no rejection .I can dream cant i.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      2 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Susan and Liz - Exciting news already! -- I just read some research about surgeons building a matrix for damaged lung tissue out of other biological matter, similar to using the biological matrix with powdered pig tissues to build a new esophagus as was first done a few years ago. Over the matrix for the damaged and removed parts of the lung, surgeons can place tissue made from the patient's own stem cells.

      The process should begin in human clinical trials soon, and it may be a couple of years before the process is approved as a standard treatment. Still, this is a leap forward.

      This is just one of the articles: Lung bioengineering: physical stimuli and stem/progenitor cell biology interplay towards biofabricating a functional organ; by Paula N. Nonaka, et.al.

      Search that title in Google Scholar or search National Center for Biotechology Information.

    • profile image

      Liz Lebbos 

      2 years ago

      What do you know about stem cell therapy and copd?

    • profile image

      Susan maier 

      2 years ago

      My husband was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. And I put him on colonial silver with nebulizer.....and has improved.. I read the article above...please send me anymore info.we live 30 minutes from Pittsburgh,PA. THANK U SO MUCH,SUSAN MAIER

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      2 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for the comments about experiences with lung diseases and conditions!

      Some of the best news now is that our own stem cells can be used to grow new lungs or to 3D print them -- It just takes too long at this moment, so scientists at my university are working on that.

      So far, we cannot repair anyone's lungs while they are still in a living body -- Only those donated for transplant can be cleaned. However, I expect medical scientists' ongoing studies to find a way soon to clean our lungs while we are still using them.

      @Ray Petit - Congratulations for having a doctor that kept looking for the real, correct answer.

    • profile image

      Ray Petit 

      2 years ago

      I was diagnose with COPD about 7 years ago and my family doctors suggested I see a pulmonary doctors about two years ago, with all the test he did he told me to throw away the drugs I was taking for COPD he he told me I did not have COPD that I had Pulmonary fibrosis, I passed the breathing test and all he wants me to do is keep excersizing and wants me to check in every six months.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      An interesting article, but unfortunately there are many people with lungs so damaged they can't be repaired. My husband was a white-collar worker but died of mesothelioma.

    • profile image

      Rachel Alba 

      2 years ago

      Hi Patty, You learn something new every day. I had no idea they can clean up your lungs, so to speak. But, if they can't do that to everyone's lungs, then it's good to know that PA has 6 hospitals that do transplants. I have good lungs but there have been family members who do not. Thanks for all the work you did in this article.

      Blessings to you.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      2 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @MizBejabbers - I wish the same things as you do about cleaning up living lungs. Too many of us have coughs from "who knows where." I also sympathize with the hot humid weather sufferers. It seems that we should be able to go to a pleasant clinic and be connected up to some eucalyptus mist or something to breath for several minutes and be cleaned up and well. I know a wreath of that plant at home keeps me from catching colds! Maybe in the future we'll have better techniques to help us.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago from Beautiful South

      Fantastic and informative article, Patty. I would like to see more research on cleaning up and healing living lungs rather than transplanting someone else's lungs into a living person. There are so many of us in the hot humid southern United States who suffered from histoplasmosis, and some of us never knew it until we were diagnosed with the scars from the disease years later. It would be wonderful to find a non surgical cure for the living.

    • profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 years ago


      I voted for the 'stem cell's option even though it's probably some years away as even with 'cleaning the lungs' and 3d printing there's still the issue of rejection!

      It was fascinating though to read of the breakthroughs in this area.

      I lost a mate a couple of years ago through lung cancer, he'd never smoked, but his parents did, and his doctor told him it WAS the second hand smoke!

      Great hub

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      3 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Timetraveler2 - I am surely glad that you did not need the surgery and wish you good health for many years. Admittedly, I don't know the official average survival rate for lung transplant either with or without the rejuvenation process. Mentioning cancer reminds me that several bioprinting and regenerative medicine hospitals/companies can print out tumors to work on to find that final cure for cancers of all kinds. Between the rejuvenation process/transplant and 3D printing, I think cancer will be defeated.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      If the survival rate for lung transplant patients is only one year, this seems a lot to put a person through for such a poor result. Years ago I almost was a candidate for a double lung transplant, but was told it would buy me five years, not one. They did not have this process then, but luckily, I had been misdiagnosed and did not need the surgery. I know so many people right now with cancer. If this can cure it, I hope they hurry! Great and very interesting article, Patty...as per your usual.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      3 years ago

      I have heard positive stories on stem cell research in helping one's body heal. I think that is the treatment I would prefer. This was interesting and well written. Your story on growing up in a polluted environment is similar to ones I've heard others share. Smoking affects those around you as well. Blessings.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      3 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @BlossomSB, fpherj48, mckbirdbks, MsDora, Shyron E Shenko, and Kristen Howe:

      Since studying the film "Repo Men" about repossessing unpaid-for artificial organs and looking into the NASA Spinoff medical inventions, I'm fascinated with real organs and ways of refurbishing old organs that our hospitals and universities are giving us. This is all a blessing.

      It's great that Ohio has a Space Corridor and NASA installations in Cleveland and elsewhere!

      Docs say my lungs are fine - yippee!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Patty, this is a most fascinating hub about new help to repair damaged lungs. As a proud Ohioian, I'm glad OSU and Cleveland Clinic is paving the way in medical science. Thanks for sharing. Kudos!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Patty, what an interesting hub, I too grew up with mom smoking and I am allergic to tobacco, and would sneeze, wheeze and cough when she smoked around me.

      Mom use to sing in a night club in Nashville and when she lost her voice and was told smoking was the cause, she quit.

      I hope you have not suffered long term affects from the second hand smoke.

      Blessings and hugs dear friend.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Not ready to choose a treatment, but it is encouraging to know that they exist. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Patty. This is both interesting and irritating. We cause so much damage to ourselves, and then legions of energy, and talent are expended looking for solutions to problems that we ourselves (people) caused.

      Again, you enlighten.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      3 years ago from Carson City

      Audrey....Thank you! I was just about to ask Patty the same question. This is stunning news. Medical Science just continues to get more and more amazing! Very positive news. Peace, Paula

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      This article is so interesting - and heartening, too, for those with damaged lungs.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      3 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @vocal coach - Hi Audrey!

      So far, the cleansing process is used only on donor lungs from deceased organ donors. However, I think that just as we can do cleanings through kidney dialysis and plasmapheresis, that one day we will be able to clean the lungs inside the living person who suffers from COPD and other lung disorders. That's my happy prediction - fingers crossed and prayers going up.

      I think my own lungs are OK - a miracle of sorts. :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      3 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Rachel Alba - It's an amazing process, isn't it!?

      Instead of rejecting damaged donor lungs - those that actually turn out to have COPD or some such - doctors can sort of wash them out in the plastic dome, using a cleaning solution of a just one substance taken out of blood, some food additive, some antibiotics, and oxygen. Then they can transplant the lungs. I hope a lot of those donor lungs that are damaged can be saved.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      3 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.


      Am I to understand that 'lung cleaning' is available to people living with damaged lungs? Or is this process only available to donated organs. Either way this is great news. With this procedure there is hope for other unhealthy organs.

      Fascinating article which I will share and thank you.


    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      3 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Patty, That was a lot of amazing information to take in. Some of it, I have to confess, I didn't understand. The parts I did understand I thought was very encouraging. I watched the video and thought it was great to see those lungs going in and out. I hope your lungs do not get affected by all the smoke you had to inhale. Thanks for all the work and information.

      Blessings to you.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      3 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @connieow - WOW is right! Xvivo company has specialized in extending the shelf life of donated organs, making the process better and organs longer lasting since they began in 1998. The company will likely come up with some even more astounding techniques.

    • connieow profile image

      Connie S Owens 

      3 years ago from El Cajon, CA

      This is amazing to me. At least when I die and my organs are donated, I know at least my lungs will be cleaned and ready for use. Tho I thought they had to be implanted within a period of time or the tissue dies. Still science is always a wow factor.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      3 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @FlourishAnyway - It's good to see that we are able to clean up some organs for reuse and even create new ones to end people's suffering. Medicine should do more of this, more often, and I think the whole health and medical field will do so.

      After you get away from heavy smoke, your lungs can often clear themselves and I think mine did that! But I sure was tired of having a new cold every couple of weeks; and pneumonia of any kind is exhausting. The TV ads about pollution and smoking that have a baby coughing with asthma almost give me a panic attack!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      This is amazing. It's like a deep cleaning for the human body. Sorry to hear that you were exposed to so much smoke growing up.


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