First COVID-19 related double lung transplant performed in Detroit

A Wyandotte woman received what is believed to be the first double-lung transplant for someone who’s lungs were irreparably damaged due to COVID-19. She received the transplant at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

Jackie Dennis tested positive for COVID-19 in November. She was pregnant at the time. Doctors induced her labor one month before her expected due date after she tested positive for COVID-19. Her child was born healthy on Nov. 27.

After she gave birth, Dennis developed pneumonia. She was eventually placed on a breathing machine called at ECMO, that replaces the lungs’ process of adding oxygen to the blood and removes carbon dioxide. Doctors could not safely take her off of the machine and eventually began to search for a transplant.

Dennis’ transplant was successful and she is expected to make a full recovery, per a release by the hospital system. She said:

“No one expected me to leave the hospital so fast, but I had an amazing team of doctors and nurse. After being away so long, I just wanted to get home and be with my family. I missed my husband and baby so much.”

COVID-19 can cause long term damage to many organs. Experts believe the pneumonia caused by COVID-19 can scar the lungs’ alveoli, air sacs in the lungs that help collect oxygen. The scarring can cause long term breathing problems for a patient.

A surge of patients needing a lung transplant have filled waiting lists since the pandemic began in March 2020. The surge has corresponded with the rate of lung waitlist mortality in the U.S. nearly doubling during the pandemic. More than 2,700 lung transplants are performed in the country every year.

 

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The virus can also cause heart issues long term. Studies suggest that even patients who do not suffer a severe case of COVID-19 may still face underlying health issues. Experts fear there may be an increase in heart failure down the line.

COVID-19 can cause long term brain issues and increase a patient’s likelihood to have a stroke or suffer from seizures down the line.

The full extent of long term damage COVID-19 can have on a patient are currently unknown.