Dying Woman Survived 6 Days Without Lungs, Doctors Removed Them To Save Her

Melissa Benoit from Ontario was brought to the hospital in April due to a severe lung infection. Doctors told her she only had hours to live, but a radical surgery may save her.

Benoit's lungs had been weakened to due to cystic fibrosis. In February, the 32-year-old mother had a bout with swine flu that sent her spiralling towards death. Two months after, she found breathing to be a struggle. She gasped for air with every breath, and her coughing fits were so intense, her ribs fractured, Washington Post reported.

Doctors Suggested A Procedure That They Have Never Done Before

She was clearly dying, and her only chance of survival is a lung transplant. Her team of doctors have been thinking about a procedure that has never been tried - but could save her life. They suggested removing her lungs for six days while waiting for a transplant. She was kept alive by Extra-Corporeal Lung Support during those days, which oxygenated and circulated her blood until donor organs became available, Mirror said.

Dr Shaf Keshavjee, one of three surgeons who operated on Benoit said that it really was only a matter of hours before Benoit would die. "That gave us the courage to say, if we're ever going to save this woman, we're going to do it now."

Her Blood Pressure Normalized After Her Lungs Were Taken Out

A nine-hour surgery took place to remove her lungs. They doctors had a difficult time getting her lungs out of her chest because they were filled with mucous, and each lung was swollen hard like a football. But hours later, her condition began to dramatically improve.

About 20 minutes after her lungs were taken out, her blood pressure normalized, and they could remove all the blood-pressure-supporting drugs and just leave her on the pumps that were providing the circulation. A small artificial lung was then connected to Benoit's heart, while other devices oxygenated and circulated her blood. Six days later, donor lungs became available.

Transplant was successful and Benoit's strength has steadily improved. In the past month, she had begun walking without support. Although her kidneys were damaged because of the ordeal, she is now hoping to be well enough to receive a kidney transplant from her mother.

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