A 65-year-old Filipino-American brought back to life after undergoing a successful ‘COVID-to-COVID’ double lung transplant operation in the United States.
Renato Aquino drove himself to the emergency department on May 14, 2020, as he was suffering shortness of breath due to coronavirus.
Aquino was put on a ventilator before being transferred to another hospital for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a life-sustaining machine that helps support the heart and lungs.
The doctors repeatedly told Aquino’s family to say their “final goodbyes” and begin making funeral arrangements.
His niece brought up a news story about lung transplants being performed on COVID-19 patients at Northwestern Medicine to Aquino’s doctors, and she was then transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in February.
The doctor who performed the procedure said that when the team got a call that lungs were available from a donor who was also diagnosed with the virus, they knew the COVID-to-COVID lung transplant was Renato’s only chance.
“After spending one week on the transplant wait-list, Renato received beautiful, healthy lungs – marking a new milestone for lung transplantation. There’s no evidence of any reactivation of COVID-19 in Renato’s lungs and he’s on track for a full recovery,” the doctor said.
The lung transplant team had performed multiple tests that examined the donor’s lung fluid to ensure the donor had cleared the virus from the body. They also performed a lung biopsy to make sure there is no permanent damage to the donor’s lung.
The donor’s history was reviewed to ensure that the COVID-19 infection was not a severe case.
Exactly one year later, Aquino is now on the road to recovery.