Doctors at a private hospital in Chennai claim to have performed Asia's first lung transplant surgery on a COVID-19 survivor, giving him hope of a better life after the virus severely damaged his lungs. The 48-year-old Gurugram-based businessman, doctors said, is doing fine and his new lungs are working well.
Talking to NDTV, Dr KR Balakrishnan, the Chairman and Director of heart and lung transplant programme at the MGM Healthcare who performed the transplant surgery, said the patient had contracted COVID-19 on June 8 and his lungs were badly affected by coronavirus-related fibrosis. In July, he was airlifted to Chennai on ventilatory support and put on ECMO treatment.
"The entire team put their lives at risk for this surgery," Dr Balakrishnan said, adding that the patient had recovered from COVID before he was operated on.
"Both his lungs are working well now and we have removed ECMO support. His clinical condition is stable," MGM Healthcare Co-Director Dr Suresh Rao said.
The lungs for the transplant came from a brain dead donor at Chennai's Gleneagles Global Hospital. The donor's heart was also given to another recipient at the same hospital.
Across India, some 62,000 people have died due to COVID-19 till now, and, in many cases, state health authorities have said that the loss of life is due to delayed reporting by which time the lungs have suffered a lot of damage.
"Lung transplant may well be the answer to saving the lives of many COVID survivors whose lungs have developed fibrosis, a chronic condition that makes them a respiratory cripple," Dr Apar Jindal, Clinical Director at MGM Healthcare, said.
In the recent weeks, there has also been growing evidence of COVID survivors reporting symptoms of lung fibrosis and cardiovascular problems, besides extreme fatigue, brain fog and giddiness, leaving them debilitated and vulnerable to strokes.