Northwestern Medicine performs double lung transplant on 2nd COVID-19 patient

Surgeons at Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine have performed a double lung transplant on a second COVID-19 patient.

The patient, a man in his 60s, spent 100 days on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a life support machine that performs heart and lung functions. The patient became infected with the new coronavirus in late March and initially received care at a different health system. He was transferred to Northwestern for consideration of a double-lung transplant.

The patient had the double lung transplant over the July 4 weekend. His lungs had been damaged as a result of COVID-19. Before coming to Northwestern, he had major chest surgery after developing an invasive infection.

"His lung damage was among the worst I've ever seen," said Samuel Kim, MD, a thoracic surgeon at Northwestern, who assisted in the double lung transplant. "When we opened the chest cavity there was a lot of evidence of infection; everything we touched or dissected started bleeding, and one misstep could have led to catastrophic consequences."

The surgery, which usually takes six or seven hours, took about 10 hours.

The July surgery was the second double lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient performed at Northwestern. In June, Northwestern surgeons performed the first known double lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient in the U.S.

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