Indian-origin doctor performs double lung transplant on COVID-19 patient
In a first, a team of surgeons in Chicago has successfully given a new set of lungs to a young woman suffering from COVID-19. The surgery, led by Indian-origin doctor Ankit Bharat, was performed last Friday after the patient's lungs were confirmed to have been permanently damaged due to the deadly coronavirus disease. Here is more about it.
The woman, who is in her 20s, had developed a severe case of COVID-19 and was being treated in the intensive care unit of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, since April. During this period, her condition deteriorated so much that the hospital had to put her on a ventilator and an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to keep her heart and lungs active.
By early June, the woman was diagnosed negative for COVID-19 but the disease had done too much damage, leaving her lungs permanently ravaged. "She had formed these cavities inside the lung, and those cavities had become infected, and that bacteria was driving sepsis," Dr. Bharat explained, noting that her situation was very critical and at the risk of further decline.
Given the critical condition, Dr. Bharat-led team at Northwestern Memorial decided to give the woman a double lung transplant. She was placed on the waiting list for a donor and successfully given a new pair of lungs on June 5. The procedure lasted for about 10 hours and was particularly challenging because the virus had left her lungs full of holes, Dr. Bharat said.
Following the surgery, the condition of the woman became stable and she is now on the path of recovery. Dr. Bharat said the new pair of lungs are working properly and her kidneys and liver, which were starting to fail, have also recovered completely. The patient is weak and on ECMO but he believes she will regain her strength and fully recover with time.
Notably, this was America's first case of lung transplant stemming from COVID-19. Similar transplants have had to be given to a few critical coronavirus patients in China and Europe. Double lung transplants were first performed in the 1960s but are still a rarity, making up just 7% of the nearly 40,000 organ transplants conducted in the US last year.