Coronavirus Survivor In Chicago Receives Double Lung Transplant

Photo of lung transplant surgeon at Northwestern
This 2014 photo provided by Northwestern Medicine shows surgeon Ankit Bharat in Chicago. In June 2020, Bharat performed a lung transplant for a woman with severe lung damage from the coronavirus, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Northwestern Medicine via AP
Photo of lung transplant surgeon at Northwestern
This 2014 photo provided by Northwestern Medicine shows surgeon Ankit Bharat in Chicago. In June 2020, Bharat performed a lung transplant for a woman with severe lung damage from the coronavirus, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Northwestern Medicine via AP

Coronavirus Survivor In Chicago Receives Double Lung Transplant

Surgeons in Chicago have given a new set of lungs to a young woman with severe lung damage from the coronavirus.

Only a few other COVID-19 survivors, in China and Europe, have received lung transplants.

The patient, who is in her 20s, was on a ventilator and heart-lung machine for almost two months before her operation last Friday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The 10-hour procedure was challenging because the virus had left her lungs full of holes and almost fused to the chest wall, Dr. Ankit Bharat, who performed the operation, said Wednesday.

Lung xray
This X-ray image shows the chest of a COVID-19 patient before she received a new set of lungs because of severe lung damage from the coronavirus, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Northwestern Medicine via AP

Doctors have kept her on both machines while her body heals but say her chances for a normal life are good.

“We are anticipating that she will have a full recovery,” said Dr. Rade Tomic, medical director of the hospital’s lung transplant program.

The patient was not identified but Bharat said she had recently moved to Chicago from North Carolina to be with her boyfriend.

She was otherwise pretty healthy but her condition rapidly deteriorated after she was hospitalized in late April. Doctors waited six weeks for her body to clear the virus before considering a transplant.

Lungs accounted for just 7% of the nearly 40,000 U.S. organ transplants last year. They are typically hard to find and patients often wait weeks on the transplant list.

The Chicago patient was in bad shape, with signs that her heart, kidneys and liver were beginning to fail, so she quickly moved up in line, Bharat said.