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Korea’s first lung transplant to COVID-19 patient successful

(Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital-Yonhap)
(Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital-Yonhap)

Korea’s first lung transplant to a COVID-19 patient was successfully conducted last month at Hallym University Medical Center, the hospital said Thursday.

It was the ninth lung transplant for a COVID-19 patient in the world, after six in China, one in the US and one in Austria, according to the hospital.

The hospital said it successfully transplanted the lungs on June 21 to a woman in her 50s who suffered pulmonary fibrosis due to the novel coronavirus.

The patient was rushed to the medical center as a severe case of COVID-19 on Feb. 29, and was placed on an artificial respirator upon being hospitalized as she had difficulty breathing on her own.

She was placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation the next day as her condition exacerbated.

The coronavirus soon disappeared from her body, but her condition continued to worsen, and developed pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which lung tissue hardens.

She tested positive to a COVID-19 test only once in early March, and has tested negative since.

The patient was on ECMO for 112 days from March 1 through June 20, the day before the lung transplant, marking the longest ever ECMO treatment among COVID-19 patients around the world, the hospital said.

She has now recovered enough to breath on her own and is exercising to regain her strength.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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