Man's Life-Saving Double Lung Transplant Bringing Hope for More Patients

NBCDFW.com

More than 2,500 people received new lungs last year. Cystic fibrosis, COPD, breathing disorders and heart disease are some of the main reasons. But did you know lung transplants for lung cancer are extremely rare? A double lung transplant on a terminal lung cancer patient is even more rare. By doing it on one man, doctors may save many more.

54-year-old Albert Khoury was told he had zero chance of survival.

“I had a couple weeks to live, actually. Not that much time,” Khoury said.

Khoury was losing his battle to stage four lung cancer. He ended up in the ICU with pneumonia and sepsis. He was fading fast, yet his cancer remained contained to his lungs.

“We saw that his cancer cells did not spread outside the lung. It was keep spreading inside the lung to the opposite part of the lung. So, he wasn’t able to breathe,” said Northwestern Medicine oncologist Dr. Young Chae

That’s when the team at Northwestern decided to give Khoury an extremely rare double lung transplant.

“So, you can imagine trillions and trillions of these cancer cells all over both his lungs. And we had to, very meticulously, take all of that out within that six-hour time constraint that we typically have for reimplantation of new lungs,” said Northwestern Medicine Thoracic Surgeon, Dr. Ankit Bharat.

Six months later.

“This is the new lung, there’s no traces of cancer coming back…Just to see a new lung, clean lung, is surreal,” Dr. Chae said.

This one man’s story, now giving hope to others who may have lost theirs.

“This message is for everybody who has cancer. Just stay strong. Fight. Don’t stop. Good things will happen,” Khoury said.

Albert Khoury was and is a non-smoker. He’s not alone. Up to 20% of the people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.

Doctors at Northwestern tell us although Albert was the first lung cancer patient to receive new lungs, he won’t be the last.

They are starting a registry to keep track of similar patients treated at Northwestern in a similar manner.

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