Lung transplant safe for COVID-19 patients, Northwestern Medicine finds

The first 30 consecutive patients who underwent a lung transplant due to COVID-19 complications at Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine had positive outcomes, according to findings recently published in JAMA

The study, published Jan. 27, compared the outcomes among the first 30 COVID-19 lung transplant patients at Northwestern to those of 72 patients who needed a lung transplant for other reasons, such as chronic end-stage lung disease. 

None of the COVID-19 patients developed lung rejection and all were alive at the time the JAMA article was written, according to a Feb. 2 news release. 

"This study proves lung transplantation is highly effective and successful in critically-ill COVID-19 patients," said Ankit Bharat, MD, study author and chief of thoracic surgery at Northwestern Medicine. "We were especially surprised to find that patients with COVID-19 did not develop rejection of the lungs after transplant."

Still, lung transplant procedures are much more difficult and carry more risks for COVID-19 patients, researchers said, adding that transplant centers should be selective when considering who the best candidates for such procedures are. 

Northwestern Medicine surgeons in June 2020 completed the nation's first lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient.


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