A Chicago hospital announced Thursday that a woman in Chicago underwent a double-lung transplant after an outbreak of the Coronavirus virus infected the organs.
The hospital, a Hispanic woman in her twenties, was on a ventilator and heart lung machine for six weeks before performing the life-saving operation on Friday, according to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Doctors said the woman was in good health, but her health deteriorated rapidly when she was hospitalized in late April with the virus.
“For several days she was the most hospitalized patient in the COVID – and perhaps the entire hospital,” Dr. Beth Malcin, a lung disease and critical care specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital said in a statement.
“There were a lot of times, day and night, our team had to react quickly to help them oxygen and support their other organs to make sure they are healthy enough to support a transplant if and when the opportunity presents itself.”
Dr. Ankit Bharat, who performed the operation, said she waited six weeks for her to recover from the virus before thinking about the transplant.
She was taken to the top of the transplant list because she was in poor condition, with signs that her heart, kidney, and liver had started to fail, he said.
Bharat said the 10-hour procedure remains a challenge as the virus has left her lungs with holes and smelting almost on the chest wall.
“We want other transplant centers to know that while transplantation in these patients is a highly technical challenge, it can be safely performed and provides COVID-19 patients with terminal illness another option to survive,” Bharat said in a statement.
The operation was successful but doctors say they will still keep the ventilator and the heart and lung machine while her body heals.
“We expect you to fully recover,” said Dr. Rade Tomek, medical director of the hospital’s lung transplant program.
The hospital said he believed he was the first to perform a double-lung transplant for a patient recovering from the virus. There were only a few other survivors, in China and Europe, who received the transplants.
Doctors say they now want to better understand the cause of her severe illness compared to other cases of the virus.
“How did a healthy woman in her twenties reach this point? There is still a lot that we have not learned about COVID-19. Why are some cases worse than others?” Said Dr. Rade Tomic, lung doctor and medical director of the lung transplant program.
With mail wires