Northwestern performs 1st 'COVID to COVID' double-lung transplant

Surgeons at Northwestern Medicine performed one of the nation's first known "COVID to COVID" double-lung transplants on a COVID-19 patient, the Chicago-based health system said this month.

Surgeons performed the transplant on an Illinois man in his 60s using lungs from a donor who recovered from a mild to moderate case of COVID-19. The donor died from causes unrelated to COVID-19 and did not have any lung damage from the virus.

The recipient was diagnosed with COVID-19 last May, placed on a ventilator and experienced permanent lung damage. He had the double-lung transplant in February. 

"This is a milestone for lung transplantation," Ankit Bharat, MD, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of Northwestern's lung transplant program, said in a March 19 news release. "To date, 30 million Americans have had COVID-19, and many of them are registered organ donors. If we say 'no' to them just because they had COVID-19 in the past, we will drastically reduce the donor pool, and there's already a big supply and demand gap."

Northwestern became the first health system in the U.S. to complete a double-lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient last June. In total, 14 patients have undergone the procedure at the health system, and all are expected to make a full recovery.  

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