With COVID-19 still upon us, doctors around the world are trying everything to treat this infectious disease. 

But on Friday, this Indian-origin surgeon went a step ahead and performed the 1st lung transplant in the US for a COVID-19 patient. 

Scroll/ P Ravikumar/Reuters

A team of surgeons led by an Indian-origin doctor gave a new set of lungs to a young woman in her 20s. She had sustained severe lung damage from the coronavirus. 

Northwestern Medicine in Chicago stated that the recipient would not have survived without the transplant and is in intensive care. She is recovering from the operation after being on lung and heart assistance devices for two months! 

Economic Times

It is being said that the surgery is the first of its kind in the US, ever since the pandemic began! 

The chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of Northwestern’s lung transplant programme, Ankit Bharat claimed that organ transplant may be seen more frequently for patients suffering from the most severe forms of COVID-19. He also commented that: 

This is one of the toughest transplants I’ve done. I certainly expect some of these patients will have such severe lung injury that they will not be able to carry on without transplant. This could serve as a lifesaving intervention. 
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The surgeon shared that patient was on immunosuppressant medication for a previous condition when she got infected with COVID-19. Maybe it’s because of this reason, the virus wrecked her lungs, leaving physicians only with a few options. 

According to reports, the 10-hour surgery was difficult and took more time than other lung transplants because of the inflammation from the disease that had left her lungs  “completely plastered to tissue around them, the heart, the chest wall and diaphragm.” 

Forbes India

Ankit also shared that she developed secondary bacterial infections which, due to the lung damage, couldn’t have been controlled. 

The woman was placed on a mechanical ventilator after sustaining multiple organ failure. She was also put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation device which added oxygen to blood outside the body and helped the heart pump blood through vessels. 

Before operating, the doctors had to repeatedly test fluids in her lungs to check for coronavirus. But by that time, she got sicker. She even had to wait for two days before they could find an appropriate brain-dead lung donor. 

MSN/ Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS

On May 26, surgeons in Austria performed the world’s first known lung transplant on a 45-year-old woman who had contracted the disease. Bharat stated that they are not aware of another organ transplant of any kind in the US which involves a recipient suffering from COVID-19.  

Spokeswoman Anne Paschke said that as of  May 29, the United Network for Organ Sharing which is a nonprofit that looks after transplantation in the US has no record of any organ transplant into a COVID-19 patient. 


But she also added that the hospitals have two months from the surgery date to report to the organisation. 

As per reports, Bharat commented that: 

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.
The Tribune/ Ankit Bharat Twitter

Thank God for such doctors because they’ll do everything they can to save a life!