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