Coronavirus, lung transplant for an 18-year-old boy: they were “burned by Covid”. First such intervention in Europe


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Two months attached to the respirator alone 18 years, with the lungs now seriously compromised since COVID-19. Then the attempt of the doctors of the Polyclinic of Milan to save Francis’ life: a lung transplant, never made in Europe but already attempted in China. The surgery was successful and now the boy is facing convalescence.

Francis begins to feel bad on March 2, with the symptoms of the coronavirus: the March 6 is hospitalized in intensive care atSan Raffaele Hospital. Two days later it is already intubated, attached to the respirator, and from 23 is connected to the Ecmo machine for extracorporeal circulation. But doctors are worried about the state of the lungs, attacked by the virus so as to be irreparably compromised: comparing with the colleagues of the Policlinico, they decide to try an operation never performed so far on a Covid patient in Europe. The only precedents are rare interventions performed in China. Doctors alert the National Transplant Center, and the April 30 Francesco is put on the waiting list. After two weeks, the call: a donor from outside the region, negative and compatible.

The intervention was performed on May 18 by the doctors of Polyclinic of Milan, under the coordination of the National Transplant Center – which in a note talks about “a success that belongs to the whole National Health Service” – together with Regional transplant center and the Northern Italy transplant program. However, the European record must be shared with Viennawho performed a similar transplant almost simultaneously. A particularly complex operation, both for the doubled precautions, both for the conditions in which the lungs were and for the conditions of the boy’s organs, now “extremely heavy and in some areas completely destroyed”, as he explained Mario Nosotti, director of the School of Specialization in Thoracic Surgery of the State University of Milan.

However, the intervention ended perfectly and hyperimmune plasma was also used in the post-operative phase. Today Francesco is awake, collaborative, follows physiotherapy and is slowly weaned from the respirator. He will have to undergo a long rehabilitation for those 58 days spent in bed, intubated and assisted by the machines.

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