Until now, one in every four lungs offered to University of Alberta’s Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute centre has been accepted, but more lungs will be available to patients who need them with the addition of Canada’s first portable Ex-Vivo lung perfusion device.

"We are geographically the most isolated cardio-thoracic transplant surgery location in the world," said Dr. Jayan Nagrendan, a surgeon at the institute.

The device, which looks like a bar fridge on wheels, infuses lungs with continuous flows of oxygen and warm blood, which strengthens and repairs lungs before surgery.

"What it changes is that if we use this machine twice a month, we would eliminate the 25 people dying every year waiting for lung transplantation," said Nagrendan. 

"We would decrease the time patients are waiting for lung transplantation, which is well over a year right now."

The doctor used the machine in April to travel out of province to pick up a pair of lungs that were so damaged, they had been rejected by every other transplant program.

The recipient's surgery was a complete success.