Double-lung transplant on COVID-19 patient offers hope for others | Daily News


 

Double-lung transplant on COVID-19 patient offers hope for others

Transplant surgeon Dr. Ankit Bharat who led the team of surgeons that performed a double-lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient.
Transplant surgeon Dr. Ankit Bharat who led the team of surgeons that performed a double-lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient.

US: A woman in her 20s has become the first person in the United States to receive a double-lung transplant for COVID-19, offering hope for other critically-ill coronavirus patients, her doctor said Thursday.

She had spent six weeks in the intensive care unit of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where a life support machine performed the work of her heart and lungs, keeping her alive.

But by early June her lungs had become so badly damaged that a transplant was her only hope.

“Her lungs just showed no signs of recovery, in fact they had started to develop terminal fibrosis,” Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery at the Northwestern Medicine Lung Transplant Program told AFP.

Fibrosis is the permanent scarring of the lung tissue, which in turn leads to destruction of the air sacs.

She had also developed large holes in her left lung, leaving it festering with a dangerous bacterial infection.

These cavities are thought to be unique to the COVID-19 illness and have left doctors mystified.

Bharat, 40, has performed dozens of lung transplants, but said this operation on June 5 was “very difficult,” requiring 10 hours rather than the six it normally takes.

This was partly because the lungs had become stuck to the surrounding structures and were difficult to remove.

Bharat added the procedure’s success led him to “absolutely think and hope that we can operate on many more patients who are now stuck on the ventilator because their lungs have been permanently destroyed.”

The patient, who is Hispanic, is now conscious and has been FaceTiming with members of her family, added Bharat.

She remains on a ventilator and is breathing via an opening in the throat called a tracheostomy, as she gathers her strength before she can be discharged in a few weeks.

It is the first time a double-lung transplant for a COVID-19 patient has taken place in the US.

China announced a similar operation on a 66-year-old woman in March.

The world’s first double-lung transplant was performed in Toronto in 1986.

It was led by G. Alexander Patterson, under whom Bharat, who is originally from India, was trained.

Before the US patient could receive the transplant, she had to test negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. “For many days, she was the sickest person in the COVID ICU -- and possibly the entire hospital,” said Beth Malsin, a critical care doctor.

- AFP

 


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