A 33-year-old nurse from Toronto, Ontario survived almost a week without lungs as part of an innovative medical procedure. Melissa Benoit, a nurse, and mother from Canada, managed to cheat death after consenting to a risky and experimental surgery which involved the removal of both lungs.
The 33-year-old Canadian nurse was diagnosed with a condition called cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder, some time ago. As a result, Benoit’s internal organs were damaged, especially her lungs. In late April, Benoit had a case of the flu which irreparably damaged her lungs.
According to the Benoit’s surgeons, when the patient arrived at the hospital, her lungs were literally filled with so much blood and pus, that they were incapable of producing enough oxygen. Despite the aggressive antibiotic regiment, the Canadian nurse’s disease spread throughout her body, and her organs began to shut down, one by one.
The doctors had no choice but to recommend a high-risk and experimental surgical approach – removing the woman’s lungs, and keeping her on life support until a viable donor could be identified. With the Canadian nurse being in a state where she could not make decisions on her own, the family reconvened and made the decision for her.
Early in the morning, the woman was sedated, and a team of highly-skilled surgeons began the lung removal intervention which took more than nine hours.
After the team finished removing the woman’s lungs, they’ve placed her on life support. Two machines were used to keep the Canadian nurse alive – a Novalung, an advanced piece of equipment whose purpose is to infuse the blood with oxygen and to remove the carbon dioxide, and another apparatus called the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Machine (EMCO) whose duty was to help the woman’s heart pump blood to vital areas of the body.
The Canadian nurse remained on life support for six days until the doctors were able to find viable lungs. Hours after the doctors implanted the new pair of lungs; the Canadian nurse was taken off life support. Her slow and even respiration showed that the surgery was a success.
The nurse woke up the next day feeling good, and eager to put behind this traumatizing experiment. In a press interview, Melisa Benoit declared that she could not believe it when she heard that she lived for six days without lungs.
The surgeons who performed the lungs transplant declared that this is the first time this kind of intervention was done in Canada.
Image source: Wikipedia