Ebene Magazine – Doctors perform first double lung transplant for COVID-19 patients in Canada

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Avis Favaro
Medical Correspondent, CTV National News

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Elizabeth St. Philip
CTV news

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Christy Somos
CTVNews.ca Writer

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TORONTO –
Doctors successfully completed Canada’s first double lung transplant for a man whose lungs were destroyed by COVID-19.

Tim Sauve, 61, contracted COVID-19 in December when he noticed he was feeling dizzy at home in Mississauga, Ont. Within a few days he ended up in the hospital and couldn’t breathe.

« At that moment I was given 100 percent oxygen and after that there was no turning back, they couldn’t lower my oxygen. » Sauve told CTV News ” Chief Correspondent Avis Favaro. « At that point it got very, very serious. »

Sauve was admitted to the intensive care unit at Toronto General Hospital in January with acute respiratory distress syndrome – or lung failure. caused by COVID-19. At the same time, he was also given extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a treatment in which blood outside the body is pumped into an artificial lung for oxygen and then returned to the patient, causing the Cardiopulmonary bypass support is basically provided.

« He really had no prospect of recovery as far as we could tell. Things were looking pretty bad and it looked pretty unlikely that he would get through. » said respirologist and member of the Toronto General Hospital’s lung transplant program, Dr. Stephen Juvet, across from CTV News.

Sauve’s other organs didn’t fail, but there was little chance his lungs would recover, so the doctors gave him a chance to survive a transplant.

Dr. Marcelo Cypel, a chest surgeon with the University Health Network, told CTV News that Sauve had severe scars on his lungs from the disease and that his medical team had no improvement in intensive care for two and a half months. « His only chance of survival was a lung transplant. »

In mid-February, Sauve became the first COVID-19 patient in Canada to receive a double lung transplant.

Cypel said it was a close call. « I don’t think if we couldn’t get a lung for him for another five to seven days, he probably wouldn’t be a candidate anymore. »

Sauve said he felt like « a million dollars ». after the operation. He lost 30 pounds and says « Everyone ». was surprised at his speedy recovery.

Approximately 40 lung transplants have been performed for COVID-19 patients worldwide, a procedure that is considered risky with lifelong medication needed to prevent organ rejection.

The increase in worrying variants in Canada and their tendency to infect a younger cohort of patients mean that lung transplants may be more common in severe COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, chief physician of the University Health Network in Toronto and director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program, said it was a wake-and-wait situation.

We had a meeting with the other transplant centers in Canada and they look and wait and see what to do. They know that they are very difficult and high. To do risk transplants ???? he said.

But lung transplants for COVID-19 patients mean even more people will be added to the already long transplant lists, reducing the likelihood of people already waiting. and doctors cannot reliably predict whose lungs will recover on their own.

« When do you resort to a transplant to answer the very difficult question: When is the lung irreparably damaged? » Said Keshavjee. He added that in the past, ECMO could keep a patient alive for four to six weeks. but now works for six to seven months.

â € œWe saw the lungs recover in three, four or five months. You leave ECMO and go home into your life. So when are you jumping to the transplant? How do you know the lungs are irreparably damaged? Many lungs can look and recover very badly on CT scans and X-rays. he said.

In Sauve’s case, his lungs began to heal in the wrong way. and he developed severe scars and fibroids, Keshavjee said. « Then we started discussing that, » you know, your only way out is a transplant. « 

Sauve hopes to return home in a few months, but issued a sharp warning from his hospital bed after his family got all COVID-19. His future father-in-law, 80-year-old Juanito Teng, died, but his partner Julie Garcia and their son did not get sick at all.

« It’s an opportunity for me to tell people not to be on your guard for a minute, » Sauve said. It’s so powerful and it’s so fast. It’s incredible. I don’t wish that to anyone. « 

Tim Sauve, here with his partner Julie Garcia, is the first Canadian COVID-19 patient to undergo a double lung transplant.

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