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Barcelona hospital performs first successful transplant on patient with Covid-ravaged lungs in Spain

51-year-old with no underlying conditions had been on life support for four months

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16 July 2021 07:02 PM

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ACN|Barcelona

Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital has performed the first successful transplant in Spain on a patient whose lungs were severely damaged following a four-month stint in the ICU due to Covid-19.

At 51, Jordi Soriano had no underlying conditions before falling ill in January. But by mid-February, he was another one of Hospital de Bellvitge's Covid-19 ICU patients, spending 122 days of the 127 he was there connected to an ECMO life support machine as his lungs had stopped working altogether.

After failing to improve months later, Bellvitge medical professionals conferred with lung transplant specialists at Vall d'Hebron hospital, who determined he would be a suitable candidate.

Describing the 9-hour operation as a "historic" feat of the Catalan public health system, the multidisciplinary team of doctors behind this man's recovery believes other Covid-19 patients with irreversible lung damage could also benefit from the treatment.

"We know we've opened a door that was once closed," said ICU doctor Judit Sacanell. "But it's a door that isn't open to everyone. It's a last resort measure for some patients."

Indeed, it is an option not available to all. "The patient must not have an active Covid-19 infection, understand what a lung transplant entails, and have a chance of recovering," doctor Alberto Jauregui explained. 

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  • Jordi Soriano doing a breathing exercise with a nurse at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital (by Imanol Olite)

  • Jordi Soriano doing a breathing exercise with a nurse at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital (by Imanol Olite)

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