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Friday, April 16, 2021

COVID-19: Indian-origin doctor in USA performs first lung transplant for former Coronavirus patient

The Coronavirus Pandemic has gripped the entire globe and USA has been one of the worst affected with more than a lakh people losing their life. Now in a ray of hope, surgeons led by an Indian-origin doctor Ankit Bharat have given a new set of lungs to a young woman in her 20s, who suffered severe lung damage from the coronavirus. The first of the its kind in the US since the pandemic helped the woman, who would not have survived without the transplant.

According to the Washington Post, the woman is currently in intensive care and recovering from the operation after being on lung and heart assistance devices for two months. Talking about the transplant, Ankit, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of Northwestern’s lung transplant programme, claimed that organ transplantation may be the way to go ahead for victims of the most severe forms of COVID-19. “This is one of the toughest transplants I’ve done,” he said. “This was truly one of the most challenging cases.” Meerut-born Bharat said, adding, “I certainly expect some of these patients will have such severe lung injury that they will not be able to carry on without transplant.”
For the unversed, the COVID-19 most commonly affects the respiratory system but it can also cause damage to kidneys, hearts, blood vessels and the neurological system. “This could serve as a lifesaving intervention,” he mentioned.
As for the woman, she was on immunosuppressant medication for a previous condition when she contracted the coronavirus. She further developed secondary bacterial infections that could not be controlled by antibiotics as he lungs were badly damaged. Soon her heart began to fail and other organs also failed to get enough oxygen. The doctors had to then put her on a mechanical ventilator and later on, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation device. In her favour, she only had to wait two days before an appropriate brain-dead lung donor was found.
Before Ankit’s aforementioned surgery, another organ transplant of any kind in the United States involving a recipient who had contracted the coronavirus had not been performed.

Surgeons in Austria on May 26 performed the world’s first known lung transplant to save the life of a COVID-19 survivor, a 45-year-old woman stricken with a severe form of the disease. “We are one of the first health systems to successfully perform a lung transplant on a patient recovering from Covid-19,” he told CNN and signed off by saying,  “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.”

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