Meet Gabriel Loor, M.D.
Gabriel Loor, M.D., is the lead surgeon behind the Midwest’s first breathing lung transplant, performed in November at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview.
Arrived at the University of Minnesota: July 2013
Current academic appointment: Assistant professor, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery
Medical education: M.D., Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Internship and residency: University of Chicago Hospitals, general surgery
Fellowship: Cleveland Clinic, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery
Q: What drew you to the field of transplantation?
A: Some of the most interesting procedures that I was a part of during my training were transplants because they made such an impact in the lives of the recipients. Other than a transplant, they really had no hope. They had no options. They would go months or days or even years sometimes just hoping that they would find the right match.
Donating organs for transplantation is also just an amazing way to get closure for someone who has passed away and to make really good use of a life that was lost. It’s an incredible gift from the donor and the donor’s family.
Q: What potential benefits do you see this “breathing lung” technology bringing to patients?
A: The better we protect the lung as it comes here, the better it will act in the recipient. This technology may have actually been the missing piece in transplantation. We’ve had a lot of improvements in selecting donors and treating recipients with immunosuppression, and the surgery has gotten better. But what we haven’t done anything about in the last decade or two has been protecting the organs going from point A to point B. We just put them in a cooler and moved them from here to there and assumed that was good. And it’s probably good enough, but the results of this trial so far suggest that this device drops the rate of severe lung failure in the first week by about 50 percent.
The device also has the ability to potentially rescue marginal lungs, meaning that we might be able to take lungs that we otherwise would have turned away and then turn them around to make them suitable for transplantation. So suddenly someone would have a lot less time on a wait list because they have more options.
Q: How is the recipient of the first “breathing lung” transplant in the Midwest doing?
A: He did great. He’s at home now. He left the hospital at a record pace.