Chicago surgeons donated a new set of lungs to a young woman with severe lung damage from the coronavirus.
Only a few other COVID-19 survivors in China and Europe have received lung transplants.
The patient, in her twenties, was on a ventilator and a heart-lung machine for almost two months before her operation last Friday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The 10-hour procedure was difficult because the virus had left its lungs full of holes and almost melted on the chest wall, said Dr. Ankit Bharat, who performed the operation, on Wednesday.
Doctors kept her on both machines while her body healed, but said her chances of a normal life are good.
“We expect her to fully recover,” said Dr. Rade Tomic, medical director of the hospital’s lung transplant program.
The patient has not been identified, but Bharat said she recently moved to Chicago from North Carolina to be with her boyfriend.
She was also in fairly good health, but her condition deteriorated rapidly after her hospitalization in late April. Doctors waited six weeks for her body to clear the virus before considering a transplant.
The lungs made up just 7% of the nearly 40,000 US organ transplants last year. They are generally difficult to find and patients often wait weeks on the transplant list.
The Chicago patient was in bad shape, with signs that her heart, kidneys and liver were starting to fail, so she quickly stood in line, said Bharat.
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