Photo courtesy of Northwestern Medicine Hospital in Chicago of Albert Khoury (right) with his surgeon Ankit Bharat, January 12, 2022 (Northwestern Medicine / -)
US doctors announced Thursday that they had successfully performed a double lung transplant on a patient with terminal lung cancer, raising hopes for other advanced patients.
The patient in question, Albert Khoury, a 54-year-old non-smoker, spent seven hours on the operating table receiving his new lungs, at Northwestern Medicine Hospital in Chicago, on September 25, 2021.
Six months later, her new lungs are working fine and no trace of cancer cells have been found in her body.
“Lung transplants are extremely rare in lung cancer, with very few known examples,” Ankit Bharat, chief thoracic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine, said in a statement.
“For stage 4 cancer patients, lung transplantation is considered absolutely out of the question, but since Albert’s cancer was confined to his chest, we were confident we could rid him of all cancer cells in the operation and save his life.” “.
Surgeons are generally reluctant to perform this type of transplant because the risk of relapse in a patient who must take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent transplant rejection is very high, even if there are some cancer cells in the body.
The first such surgeries failed, but doctors now know more about how cancers spread.
Albert Khoury’s symptoms appeared in early 2020: back pain, sneezing, chills, cough…
This Chicago construction worker initially thought it was Covid-19, before he started coughing up blood and called his doctor.
Tests reveal stage 1 cancer. “But due to the wave of Covid-19, I couldn’t start treatment right away,” he said in a news release.
As of July 2020, her cancer had worsened, to stage 2. And the chemotherapy didn’t stop it from progressing further, to stages 3 and then 4.
He had been told that he would not survive, when his sister told him about lung transplants at Northwestern Medicine Hospital, a pioneer in this field.
In 2020, a team led by surgeon Ankit Bharat had already performed a double transplant on a young woman whose lungs had been devastated by Covid-19.
– “Smile” –
After more treatment attempts, Albert Khoury, whose condition was deteriorating, was considered eligible for this transplant because his cancer, although stage 4, had not spread to any other organs.
Photo courtesy of Northwestern Medicine Hospital in Chicago showing an X-ray of Albert Khoury’s new lungs (Northwestern Medicine/-)
The team that operated on him had to, in six hours, remove “trillions” of cancer cells from his lungs, taking care that they did not come into contact with his chest or his bloodstream.
“It was an exciting night,” Ankit Bharat summed up.
Albert Khoury can now lead a normal life, work or play sports without respiratory assistance.
“I haven’t smiled in over a year, but now I can’t stop,” she said.
Following its success, Ankit Bharat’s team set out to develop new protocols to determine who else might be eligible for such treatment.
“Now we are convinced that it is possible to offer a transplant in case of cancer.
Lung cancer is by far the deadliest cancer in the United States, with nearly one in four deaths related to this disease.