Surgeons successfully perform double lung transplant on dying COVID-19 patient

While in recent weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic may have taken a backseat leading some to believe that the threat is over, the virus is still here and with no vaccine or reliable treatment we must continue to take precautions.

Over the last several months we have heard story after story of both recovery and death due to the coronavirus, but perhaps none have been as incredible a coronavirus patient who recently received a double lung transplant.

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According to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, surgeons performed the double organ transplant on the patient, who was only identified as a Hispanic woman in her 20s, on June 5.

The woman was admitted to the hospital on April 26 and was placed on a ventilator extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a life support machine that pumps blood through the patient’s body.

As doctors continued treating her, it became clear that her lungs suffered from “irreversible damage.”

“A lung transplant was her only chance for survival,” says Ankit Bharat MD, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of the Northwestern Medicine Lung Transplant Program.

But before surgeons could even attempt a double-lung transplant, the woman had to be clear of COVID-19.

Beth Malsin, MD, pulmonary and critical care specialist at the hospital recalled the highs and lows of caring for the patient.

There were so many times, day and night, our team had to react quickly to help her oxygenation and support her other organs to make sure they were healthy enough to support a transplant if and when the opportunity came. One of the most exciting times was when the first coronavirus test came back negative and we had the first sign she may have cleared the virus to become eligible for a life-saving transplant.

Finally, on June 5 she was able to undergo a surgery that doctors have called a “milestone” in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

“COVID-19 is a disease unlike anything we’ve seen before,” Bharat said during a press conference. “One minute the patient is talking to you and looks comfortable, and the next minute, the patient’s oxygen starts to drop and the patient suddenly requires ventilation and intubation.”

“This is a milestone, not only improving the care for this patient, but also giving hope for future opportunities,” Dr. Mike Ison, an infectious disease specialist, said.

“I can very confidently say, if she did not get the transplant she would not be alive,” Bharat said.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the woman is currently in stable condition.

Although she has a long road ahead of her, doctors are confident she will make a full recovery.

“Yesterday she smiled and told me just one sentence,” he said. “Thank you for not giving up on me.”

This is potentially great news for other coronavirus patients.

Share this to wish this patient continued healing.

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