Double lung transplant by US docs saves 2 lives with late-stage cancer
New York, March 20
In a first, doctors at Northwestern Medicine in the US, including one of Indian origin, successfully performed a double-lung transplant on two patients with stage 4 lung cancer and gave them a new lease of life.
The lung transplants were performed on a 54-year-old man in 2021 and 64-year-old-woman in 2022; both patients did not require any further cancer therapy after transplant, the doctors said in a statement.
The post-transplant survival at one year for both patients was above 90 per cent, they added.
Using lessons learned from pioneering Covid lung transplantation, the surgeons developed a novel surgical technique to clear the cancer during surgery while minimising the risk of spread that has plagued prior such attempts at other hospitals.
"Unlike the conventional technique of sequential transplants, this innovative technique involves putting the patient on full heart and lung bypass, delicately taking both cancer-ridden lungs out at the same time along with the lymph nodes, washing the airways and the chest cavity to clear the cancer, and then putting new lungs in," said Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery and director of Northwestern Medicine Canning Thoracic Institute.
"These patients can have billions of cancer cells in the lungs, so we must be extremely meticulous to not let a single cell spill into the patient's chest cavity or blood stream. We believe this technique can help reduce the risk of recurrence, which we learned through our experience withApioneering Covid-19 lung transplants," he added.
Albert Khoury, from Chicago, who became the first patient with stage 4 lung cancer to receive a lung transplant, was working as a cement finisher when he developed back pain, sneezing, chills, and a cough with mucus in early 2020.
At first, Khoury thought it was Covid-19, but then he was diagnosed with lung cancer and ended up in the intensive care unit on a ventilator when chemotherapy treatments failed.
Hospice care was being considered for Khoury, but because his tumour was localised to the chest completely encasing both lungs and hadn't spread to other parts of his body, the surgeons on September 25, 2021 performed a double-lung transplant.
Eighteen months after receiving the lifesaving surgery, Khoury still has no signs of cancer left in his body and has returned to work, the doctors said.
"My life went from zero to 100," said Khoury. "You didn't see this smile on my face for over a year, but now I can't stop smiling"
In September 2021, Tannaz Ameli of Minneapolis, was struggling with a lingering cough. By January 2022, the retired nurse went to a large health system in Minnesota where she was confirmed with stage 4 lung cancer.
When chemotherapy treatments didn't help and hospice was recommended, Ameli's husband considered a second opinion programme at Northwestern Medicine.
Because Ameli's cancer was confined to the lungs and hadna t spread to other parts of the body, the 64-year-old was listed for a transplant and received new lungs within 10 days on July 13, 2022.
"When I came to Northwestern Medicine, the first thing Dr. Bharat told me was, aI think we can make you cancer-free,' and he delivered on those words," Ameli said.