It’s believe to be the first time the procedure has been carried out in the US.
This week surgeons at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago performed an ultra-rare double-lung transplant on a Hispanic woman in her 20s who had contracted a severe case of Covid-19.
The woman’s lungs were so badly damaged after weeks of battling Covid-19 that she needed a double transplant, the first time the surgery has been performed in the US
But by early June her lungs were so badly damaged it was decided that a transplant must be performed if she was to have any chance of living.
A horrifying image has been released showing the extent of the damage inflicted on a young coronavirus patient’s lungs.
The patient had spent six weeks on a life support machine in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) while her body desperately tried to fight off the virus.
However it was a success and the patient is now recovering.
The 10-hour surgery took longer than expected, because inflammation caused by the virus had left the woman’s lungs “completely plastered to tissue around them, the heart, the chest wall and diaphragm”.
“A lung transplant was her only chance for survival,” said Dr Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of the Northwestern Medicine Lung Transplant Program.
“She’s awake, she’s smiling, she FaceTimed with her family,” Dr Bharat told the New York Times.
She has a long way to go and is still using a ventilator, as her new lungs are healthy but coronavirus has left her chest muscles too weak to breathe independently.
He added that the woman had no serious underlying medical conditions before her battle with Covid-19.
Much is still unknown about coronavirus, which has been observed to attack not just the lungs but many other parts of the body.
Two Covid-19 patients in Italy and Vienna, aged 18 and 45, have also undergone successful double-lung transplants which saved their lives after they began suffering from severe respiratory problems.
The intensity of the disease seems to vary wildly between patients, with some experiencing no symptoms at all while others are hospitalised or have died.