News & Events

  • Title : Hallym successfully performs lung transplant on COVID-19 patient
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  • On June 21, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital successfully performed lung transplant on a COVID-19 patient for the first time in Korea. It is the ninth in the world for lung transplant on coronavirus patient after China, the United States, and Austria.

    This critically ill female patient in her 50s was hospitalized on February 29 and was immediately put on a respirator. Her conditions further worsened, and doctors had to put her on an ECMO machine the next day.

    The coronavirus soon disappeared from her body, but her lungs began to harden, requiring a transplant. Since the patient would have been at a high risk of death if she had gotten off ECMO, doctors decided to go ahead with lung transplant on June 20, which took 8 hours.

    Professor Hyoung Soo Kim—a professor of Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery and a director of Hallym ECMO Center who performed the surgery—said, “The infected lung had shrunk and was hard as a rock, unlike a healthy lung. It was the best treatment case of severe COVID-19 patients in Korea.

    Although the patient had been receiving ECMO treatment for a long time, the lung transplant was successful. The patient is now able to breathe himself, and is undergoing rehabilitation treatment.

    The success of the surgery offered new hope for patients with extensive lung damage from coronavirus infection. However, it doesn’t mean that every patient with severe COVID-19 can have lung transplant operation.

    “Among all organ transplant procedures, lung transplant takes the longest hours and it also has a high risk of complication. The younger the patient is, the better the result will be,” said Professor Sunghoon Park of Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, who treated the patient at the ICU. “It is important to stay alert by keeping the social distance and wearing masks,” he added.

    By Chul Kwon, Int’l Cooperation Team, HUMC (