BACKGROUND: The critical lack of donor organs from people of small size or children has created great difficulties in transplantation for recipients who are of smaller size. Surgical techniques of organ reduction and partial transplantation may to some extent solve the problem of disparity in organ size, be it liver or lung, and lessen the problem of scarcity of paediatric organs. METHODS: In a series of experiments on dogs the surgical technique of pulmonary partition of a large organ from a grown dog followed by transplantation of lobes, either unilaterally or bilaterally, into a young dog was studied. Two series of experiments were performed in two groups of animals; in group 1 transplantation of a single right lobe (n = 6) or single left lobe (n = 6) from a split adult lung was carried out and in group 2 (n = 10) animals received bilateral lobar transplants from a single split adult lung. The animals were sacrificed at fixed intervals (days 8-120 in group 1, days 7-10 in group 2) and the results of the surgical technique were assessed. RESULTS: Healing of lobar bronchial anastomoses was found to be excellent with no histological evidence of dehiscence or ulceration. There was one bronchial anastomotic stenosis and one arterial thrombosis. Morphological and functional adaptation of the lobes in the thorax was found to be excellent in both groups of animals. The technique has been applied in a clinical setting and the first patient with bilateral lobar lung transplantation followed for 30 months is reported. CONCLUSION: Lung partition and subsequent lobar transplantation, either unilaterally or bilaterally, is associated with satisfactory early results in an animal experimental model. Initial clinical experience in one patient has been successful.
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