Nation's 1st double lung-liver transplant performed at Northwestern

Surgeons at Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine successfully completed the nation's first double-lung and liver transplant, the health system said March 28.  

Gary Gibbon, MD, a 69-year-old pulmonologist and allergy specialist based in California, underwent the 10-hour procedure in late September at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He recovered well from the procedure and is still cancer free after six months. 

"To our knowledge, this is the first known case in the nation where a patient with advanced lung cancer has successfully received a combined lung-liver transplant," said Ankit Bharat, MD, chief of thoracic surgery and director of the Northwestern Medicine Canning Thoracic Institute.

Dr. Gibbon was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer in March, which did not respond to conventional treatments. Immunotherapy also caused irreparable damage to his lungs and liver, making the transplant procedure his only chance of survival.

"As a pulmonologist, I never imagined I'd ever need a lung transplant — let alone for lung cancer," he said in a March 28 news release. "While my doctors in California had done everything they could, we knew there was only one place in the entire country that could give me a fighting chance and after speaking with Dr. Bharat, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Dr. Gibbon received the transplant as part of Northwestern's DREAM program, a first-of-its-kind clinical program that offers double lung transplants for certain lung cancer patients after traditional or experimental treatments fail. 

The medical advancement builds upon Northwestern's pioneering research on double lung transplantation. In 2020, the health system became the first in the U.S. to complete a double lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient. 

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