Even if the new coronavirus treatment eventually neutralises the pathogen, the lungs of patients with severe COVID-19 disease may be severely damaged. A young woman needed a double lung transplant after two months in intensive care after struggling with COVID-19. A team at Northwest Memorial Hospital in Chicago performed a double lung transplant on the patient, the first lung transplant in the United States for A SURVIVOR of COVID-19.
A woman in her 20s in the United States survived weeks of struggle with COVID-19 on a ventilator. But she lost her lung function in the process, as it was so damaged in the fight against the virus that the patient’s life was in danger. The only way to save her life was a double lung transplant, which doctors at Northwest Memorial Hospital in Chicago did. The first operation for patients with COVID-19 was successful, but the patient was not out of danger. She still has a long way to go to recover, and the next obstacle is that her body will have to accept new lungs.
Doctors treated the patient in the intensive care unit for two months with a ventilator and ECMO. The latter is designed to remove carbon dioxide from the blood and replace it with oxygen, a gas exchange that occurs in the lungs. She cleared her body of the virus, but her condition remains serious, NPR reported. By early June, there had been irreversible changes in her lungs and signs of kidney and liver failure.
“Because of COVID, she forms these cavities inside her lungs, which are already infected, and these bacteria are driving sepsis,” Dr. Ankit Bharat, director of thoracic surgery at Northwestern University, told NPR. Subsequent images show the patient’s chest X-rays, which reveal the presence of abnormal cavities (darker areas) and a damaged lung.
“She’s very ill. In fact, I can say without hesitation that she is the most sick of the patients I have underwent transplants. Bharat said he believed she would recover and recover. However, she is still using the ECMO machine and she is starting to produce antibodies for the transplant, so she is now taking medication to help her body receive the transplant.
Overall, her condition was stable and the other organs had fully recovered since the transplant. However, her body is still too weak to stand on her own or take deep breaths.
Lung transplantation may be a solution for survivors of COVID-19. Media have reported a similar case in Vietnam. However, not all PATIENTS WITH COVID-19 who develop complications are eligible for a transplant. As the report explains, patients who are likely to develop severe illness are either older or have pre-existing conditions. Therefore, they are also not eligible for porting. Then there is the issue of available supply, as there may not be enough lungs to meet the increased demand. Even the lungs patients received may not meet the standards, and the North Western team spent two-and-a-half days repairing them to give them “special transplant quality,” according to doctors.
The Northwestern Memorial Hospital team has been in contact with centers in California, New York and Texas to serve other patients.