Indian-Origin Doc Performs Lung Transplant on Former COVID Patient

Indian-Origin Doc Performs Lung Transplant on Former COVID Patient

Published12 Jun 2020, 08:32 AM IST
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2 min read

Indian-origin doctor Ankit Bharat led a team of surgeons to perform a double-lung transplant on a patient whose lungs had been damaged due to COVID-19. Ever since the outbreak began, this surgery is considered to be the first of its kind in the US, reported PTI.

The patient, a Hispanic woman in her 20’s, had contracted coronavirus while she was on immunosuppressant medication for a previous condition.

Doctors constantly examined fluid from her lungs to be assured she tested negative before operating her.

According to Northwestern Medicine Chicago, the recipient spend six weeks in COVID ICU on a ventilator and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO, a life support machine that does the work of the heart and lungs.

In early June, the lung transplant team prepared her for a double-lung transplant after her lungs showed irreversible damage. Right after 48 hours, they carried out a life-saving process at the hospital.

The patient spent just two days on the waiting list before she got a suitable brain-dead lung donor. Bharat said, just a small part of the donor's lungs met the criteria for transplantation. Even in the starting, her physicians were not sure these would qualify.

The recipient was one of the sickest patients in COVID ICU and probably in the entire hospital, said Beth Malsin, MD, pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Beth Malsin, MD, pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. was quoted by PTI as saying, “For many days, she was the sickest person in the COVID ICU” and possibly the entire hospital.”

“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,” it was added.

“Due to the ability of Northwestern Medicine’s program to support patients with life-threatening lung failure for extended durations, the patient could get adequate time to clear the virus from her body, allowing the consideration of transplantation,” said Bharat.

Recently, on May 26 in Austria surgeons performed the world's first life-saving lung transplant of a COVID-19 survivor, a 45-year-old woman discovered with a severe form of the disease.

Bharat said that others including him in the field were not aware of the same in the US.

Bharat shared even though the life span of a double-lung transplant lasts for 9 years before the organs must be replaced, experts have seen them perform much longer.

(With inputs from PTI)

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