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By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A local transplant doctor is trying to raise awareness to the need for suitable lungs to save patient’s lives.

There were 8,000 lungs available for donation last year, but only 20-percent could be used, according to Dr. Vivek Ahya, the Medical Director for the Lung Transplantation Program at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.

He says many were damaged or diseased and his group is part of a study to determine if those fragile organs could be used to save lives:

“We hook up the lungs to a ventilator which is a machine that puts oxygen into the lungs and  hook it up to a pump that pumps a solution thru the lungs we’re part of the clinical trial that’s trying to show that you can use organs that can be repaired and rehabilitated thru this technique,” Dr. Ahya said.

He says most Americans claim they support organ transplantation, but fewer than 40-percent actually sign up.

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