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Bengaluru: Doctor who contracted Covid-19 undergoes lung transplant

Dr Sanath Kumar is possibly the first Covid-19 patient in Karnataka to undergo a lung transplant after contracting the disease.

Dr Sanath Kumar with his team of doctors.

In what is being claimed by hospital authorities as the first in Karnataka, a 30-year-old doctor who contracted Covid-19 on duty during the second wave, successfully underwent a double lung transplant in Bengaluru’s Aster CMI Hospital.

The surgery, according to a statement from the hospital, was done on Dr Sanath Kumar, an anesthetist and intensivist who was on duty in the Intensive Care Unit in Prakriya Hospital, treating critical Covid-19 patients. He had tested positive for the infection on May 8 this year. He suffered from acute lung damage, and was put on mechanical ventilation.

While the transplant was conducted on June 21, Dr Kumar was recently discharged from the hospital after treatment spanning nearly three-and-a-half months, doctors involved in the surgery said.

“Despite keeping him on ECMO (Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) and resting the lungs, they continued to deteriorate. Long-term ECMO with a bleak outlook was a difficult period for him and his family. A transplant was the last option,” said Dr V Arun, Lead Consultant for Anaesthesia & Critical Care at the hospital.

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“Luckily, he remained stable over the next few weeks while we waited for a suitable donor match for him. We were able to find a suitable match after four weeks, and he underwent the lung transplant,” Dr Arun added.

Meanwhile, Dr Sandeep Attawar, Chair & Director of Thoracic organ transplants and Assist devices at KIMS Heart & Lung Transplant Institute, noted that the surgery was “uniquely complex”.

“The patients are intubated, deconditioned, nutritionally inadequate, and suffer from airway and bloodstream infections during their prolonged hospitalisation,” he said.

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Dr Sunil Kumar K, Lead and Senior Consultant – Interventional Pulmonology and Transplant Physician at Aster CMI Hospital, said post-transplant infections and rejections are the major roadblocks for successful outcomes of such surgeries. “Thus, it was very important to comprehensively address each and every challenge. Dr Sanath’s condition was closely monitored for a few weeks before we mobilised him out of the bed,” he said.

Thanking the doctors, Dr Kumar said he never imagined having to undergo a lung transplant after getting Covid-19. The doctor, who is now recovering at home, has been advised to stay indoors in a secure environment to minimise the risk of catching the infection again.

First published on: 17-09-2021 at 09:50:49 am
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