Health Headlines: Beating the odds with a successful double lung transplant

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Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 6:59 AM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - There are a number of reasons a patient might need a lung transplant. Cystic fibrosis, COPD, breathing disorders, and heart disease are some of the most common causes. But lung transplants for cancer patients are extremely rare. Even more so, is a double lung transplant on a terminally ill patient.

But doctors say by testing the procedure on Albert Khoury, they might save many more.

Khoury was told he had basically no chance of survival, “I had a couple weeks to live, actually. Not that much time.”

The 54-year-old Khoury was losing his battle to stage 4 lung cancer and ended up in the ICU with pneumonia and sepsis. He as fading fast, yet his cancer was contained to just his lungs.

Dr. Young Chae is an oncologist with Northwestern Medicine who says, “We saw that his cancer cells did not spread outside the lung. It kept spreading inside the lung to the opposite part of the lung. So, he wasn’t able to breathe.”

That’s when the team at Northwestern decided to give Khoury an extremely rare double lung transplant.

“So, you can imagine trillions and trillions of these cancer cells all over both his lungs. And we had to, very meticulously, take all of that out within that six-hour time constraint that we typically have for reimplantation of new lungs.”

Following the successful transplant, Khoury’s story is now giving hope to others who may have lost theirs.

Khoury says, “This message is for everybody who has cancer. Just stay strong. Fight. Don’t stop. Good things will happen.”

Doctors say although Albert was the first lung cancer patient to receive new lungs, he won’t be the last now. Doctors are now starting a registry to keep track of similar patients treated at Northwestern.