France performs its first lung transplant for Covid patient

A patient with severe respiratory problems linked to Covid has become the first to receive a double lung transplant

13 November 2020
By Hannah Thompson

A patient in France with severe respiratory problems linked to the Covid-19 virus has received a lung transplant, a medical first for the country.

The transplant took place on November 1 at the Foch hospital in Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine in Ile-de-France.

The patient had initially been admitted to the intensive care service at the Lille CHU hospital, under the care of Professor Sébastien Préau.

But the patient then went on to develop a severe form of the virus, causing major respiratory distress due to “the near-total destruction of both lungs”, the Foch hospital said in a statement.

Despite optimum care over several weeks in Lille, the patient showed no signs of improvement, making the lung transplant necessary.

Professor Edouard Sage, head of the lung transplant programme at the Foch hospital, said: “The decision to go for this major, rare operation was not simple, and was also due to a number of results from complementary examinations.

“These were intended to discern potential contra-indications that could have caused this major operation to fail.”

The operation went very well, but Professor Sage said: “We must still stay alert, because the recovery of a lung transplant patient is often long and sometimes difficult.”

France is not the only country to perform a double lung transplant on a Covid patient.

Doctors in China undertook the procedure in March, for a woman in her 60s, whilst the same procedure was done in the US in June, at the Northwestern hospital in Chicago. The US patient was in her 20s, and had been in good health before contracting the virus, which “irreversibly” destroyed her lungs, doctors said. Her operation took 10 hours.

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