Lifesaving double lung transplant

Author: Ivanhoe Newswire/WINK News
Published: Updated:
(CREDIT: Ivanhoe)

More than 2,500 people received new lungs last year.

Cystic fibrosis, COPD, breathing disorders and heart disease are some of the main reasons. But did you know lung transplants for lung cancer are extremely rare?

A double lung transplant on a terminal lung cancer patient is even rarer. But, by doing it on one man, doctors may save many more.

Fifty-four-year-old Albert Khoury was losing his battle to stage four lung cancer. Khoury ended up in the ICU with pneumonia and sepsis. He was fading fast, yet his cancer remained contained in his lungs.

“We saw that his cancer cells did not spread outside the lung. It kept spreading inside the lung to the opposite part of the lung. So, he wasn’t able to breathe,” said Northwestern Medicine oncologist Dr. Young Chae.

That’s when the team at Northwestern decided to give Khoury an extremely rare double lung transplant.

“You can imagine trillions and trillions of these cancer cells all over both his lungs. We had to, very meticulously, take all of that out within that six-hour time constraint that we typically have for reimplantation of new lungs,” said Dr. Ankit Bharat, a thoracic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine.

Six months later, after his transplant, there was no trace of cancer coming back.

“Just to see a new lung, clean lung, is surreal,” Chae said.

This one man’s story now gives hope to others who may have lost theirs.

“This message is for everybody who has cancer. Just stay strong. Fight. Don’t stop. Good things will happen,” Khoury exclaims.

Khoury was and is a non-smoker. He’s not alone. Up to 20% of the people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. Doctors at Northwestern tell us although Albert was the first lung cancer patient to receive new lungs, he won’t be the last. They are starting a registry to keep track of similar patients treated at Northwestern.

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