Doctors from the Northwestern Memorial Hospital, on Friday, completed the United States' first known double lung transplant. The female patient was suffering from the coronavirus infection. The disease severely damaged the woman's lungs but was treated by the surgery, which saved her life.

On Thursday, medical experts considered the procedures an important "milestone" for the patients who are currently battling the COVID-19 pandemic when they spoke outside of the Prentice Women's Hospital.

The hospital had already received multiple phone calls asking about the procedures, as reported by Chicago Tribune.

Cost of surgery

A study of more than 3,000 Medicare patients showed that centres that feature high-volume lung transplants have significantly lower costs and the patients they perform the surgeries on are much less likely to be readmitted within 30 days of a successful operation.

According to Science Daily, previous research had discovered that the survival rate of patients of lung transplant is higher at high-volume centres. The study, however, did not show if the better rates required more resources or if they were a result of more intensive care.

Researchers also found that the average cost of lung transplants across multiple health centres was found to be at $135,622, where low-volume centres had higher costs than high-volume ones.

Across all centres, at least 39% of successful transplant patients had early readmission into the hospital, which cost them an average of $27,233. Low-volume centre patients were 14% more likely to be readmitted early than high-volume centre patients.

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The study also discovered that low-volume centre patients were 41% less likely to survive inside the hospitals during the surgeries than patients from high-volume centres. High-volume and intermediate-volume centres did not have a difference in their mortality rates.

Complications can arise after successful lung transplants as eventually, the immune system will reject the foreign lungs. Along with this, immune-suppressing drugs have unavoidable side effects.

According to WebMD, at least 80% of patients survive more than one year after a successful transplant. And after three years, between 55% to 70% of patients continue to live. One of the most significant factors of survivability is the patient's age during the surgery.

Complexity of COVID-19

The chief thoracic surgery and surgical director of the Northwestern Medicine Lung Transplant Program, Ankit Bharat, said that the double lung transplant performed on the United States resident is a big step towards the development of treatment for coronavirus patients.

Bharat noted that the woman's condition made conventional lung transplant much more complex after the coronavirus severely damaged her lungs. Bharat was part of the team that performed the surgery on the patient.

Usual double lung transplants took an average time of about six to seven hours to perform. Still, the particular surgery that Bharat and his team accomplished was extended due to the severity of the patient's condition, which included extensive scarring of the lungs.

Bharat also added that the coronavirus still has several impacts and effects that doctors have not yet been able to learn.

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