MEERUT: A team of doctors in the US headed by a Meerut-born surgeon has successfully performed a double lung transplant on a Covid-19 patient for the first time

Dr Ankit Bharat, assisted by two team members, conducted the surgery on a woman in her 20s whose lungs were devastated by coronavirus.

Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of the lung transplant programme at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, told TOI that the operation was conducted on June 5 but the announcement was made by the hospital on Thursday.
T his is not the first time the surgeon has scripted history. In 2019, he had conducted the first robot-assisted lung volume reduction surgery in the US.

T alking about the challenges he faced during the latest pathbreaking surgery, the 40-year-old doctor said, "Double lung transplant is one of the most complex procedures. I have done a number of transplants earlier. However, this involved many risks. Before the transplant, we had to make sure the virus was completely eliminated from the body. So we tested her every few days. We only performed the surgery after four negative Covid-19 test reports."

T he patient's already deteriorated health also posed a risk. "Clearing the virus was of utmost importance. The patient was in a bad condition as she had been on immunosuppressant medication for a previous condition when she contracted Covid-19. Her other organs had also started to get infected," said Bharat, who studied medicine from Christian Medical College, Vellore, before going to the US for higher studies. "As we waited for the virus to clear from the body, we needed to support the patient. She was put on a ventilator and on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation device which supports the heart and the lung," said Bharat.

Luck also played its part. The woman found a donor - a brain dead person - within two days of her last negative report. She is now recuperating well, even video-calling friends and family. "The success of this operation offers hope for other Covid patients with severe lung damage," Bharat said.

Bharat studied till grade 10 in St Mary's Academy in Meerut and completed his grade 12 from Delhi Public School, RK Puram.