UK surgeons first to do life-saving lung procedures in tandem

Surgeons at the University of Kentucky are the first in medical history to perform two procedures in tandem to bridge a lung transplantation. The procedures were performed first on Wanda Craig, 68, who is now the oldest person to be “bridged to transplant using an artificial lung device, also known as an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation,” reports research-reporting service Newswise. (Photo of Wanda Craig and Dr. Enrique Diaz by Julia Meador)

Craig, of Lexington, had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema for which she has been treated for the past 10 years. In November 2010, she took a turn for the worse. “I was so out of breath from walking to the kitchen … I didn’t have enough energy to even scoop ice cream out of the carton,” she said. Pulmonary hypertension, from which she also suffered, had caused the right half of her heart to fail, which prevented blood from going through the lungs to fill the left side of the heart, explained Dr. Charles Hoopes, director of UK’s heart and lung transplant program.
To fix the problem, Hoopes and Dr. Enrique Diaz, the program’s medical director, performed a procedure called an atrial septostomy, in which a small hole is created between the upper two chambers of the heart. This procedure, along with the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation procedure, saved Craig’s life, the news release says. “These procedures are novel in terms of a bridge to transplantation, and the use of an artificial lung together with an atrial septostomy for cases of respiratory and right ventricular failure have not been performed together until now,” Diaz said.
Three days later, Craig underwent a double lung transplant, and has been healing since. “More than anything I am looking forward to doing those normal everyday things like going to the grocery store and watching my grandson’s T-ball games,” she said. “And scooping my own ice cream.” (Read more)
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