University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) clinicians implanted a device called the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System (RAS) into a cystic fibrosis patient awaiting a life-saving double lung transplant. The device filters out harmful carbon dioxide and provide healthy oxygen to the blood.

Suffering from CF and rejecting the transplanted lungs he had gotten just two years ago, Jon Sacker, 33, came to UPMC from his hometown in Moore, Oklahoma, as a last resort. But when his carbon dioxide levels spiked, making him too sick for another transplant, his family feared the worst.

Many patients waiting for lungs or a heart use mechanical devices as a bridge to transplant. But doctors said Mr. Sacker was too sick for the traditional extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO. However, UPMC doctors knew about the Hemolung RAS, which removes carbon dioxide and delivers oxygen directly to the blood, allowing a patient’s lungs to rest and heal.