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 .Northwestern Medicine in Chicago said the recipient is a Hispanic woman in her 20s. The patient spent six weeks on a ventilator and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
The patient spent six weeks in the COVID ICU on a ventilator and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a life support machine that does the work of the heart and lungs, the hospital said.
By early June, the patient’s lungs showed irreversible damage. The lung transplant team listed her for a double-lung transplant, and 48 hours later, performed the life-saving procedure a the hospital.
“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.
“We are one of the first health systems to successfully perform a lung transplant on a patient recovering from COVID-19. We want other transplant centers to know that while the transplant procedure in these patients is quite technically challenging, it can be done safely, and it offers the terminally ill COVID-19 patients another option for survival.”
Before putting the patient on the transplant wait-list, she had to test negative for COVID-19. “For many days, she was the sickest person in the COVID ICU” and possibly the entire hospital,” said Beth Malsin, MD, pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.