Health Advice



‘Milestone’ surgery: Illinois health care worker dying of COVID-19 receives lungs from person who recovered from the disease but died in an accident

Madeline Buckley, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

Now, his new lungs are “working great” and he is on track to make a full recovery, Bharat said.

The hospital did not release the patient’s name.

Bharat and a team of surgeons in June performed the first double lung transplant in the U.S. to save a COVID-19 patient who was near death due to the virus. That patient, Mayra Ramirez, 28, is now recovering.

These lung transplants are more complex due to the extreme damage the virus wreaks on lungs in the most severe cases.

A normal double lung transplant typically takes six to seven hours, but lung transplants due to COVID-19 often take about 10 hours and require significantly more units of blood.


“It’s like a bomb blast has gone off,” Bharat told the Tribune last year, describing the lung damage of a typical patient.

To date, Northwestern has performed 14 of the surgeries for patients from across the United States. The patients face long recoveries, but so far, the hospital has seen an 100% survival rate, Bharat said.

“More patients require it,” Bharat said of the surgery. “It’s going to stress the system.

“We need to be creative to make sure we maximize our donor pool.”

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