New research highlights best time for post-covid lung transplants

Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest medical center and a Newsweek-ranked world’s best hospital for the last five years, announced Thursday the publication of new research in the Journal of Clinical Medicine from Sheba’s Lung Transplant Program, providing valuable insights into the optimal timing for considering a lung transplant in patients with severe lung injury related to COVID-19.

The research showcases Sheba’s expertise in handling challenging COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) cases and highlights patient selection criteria and innovative protocols developed by the team to optimize the success of lung transplantation.

The study recommends delaying lung transplant consideration for approximately 8–10 weeks from the initiation of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), especially in younger populations, as their lungs may have the potential for unexpected regenerative capacity and recovery.

“Our study offers important insight into patient selection criteria and provides guidance on who should undergo lung transplantation for severe COVID-19 ARDS,” said Dr. Liran Levy, Medical Director of Sheba’s Lung Transplant Program. “It helps delineate between patients who have a higher chance of recovery without transplantation, particularly younger individuals, and those who may benefit from this life-saving procedure, such as older patients or those with underlying health conditions. By identifying the appropriate candidates for lung transplantation, we can improve outcomes and ensure the best allocation of limited resources.”

In addition to highlighting the achievements of the Sheba Lung Transplant Program, the research also sheds light on the expertise of the Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Sheba Medical Center, led by Dr. Alexander Kogan. One notable aspect of the study is the successful management of patients on ECMO for extended periods exceeding six months. This accomplishment was virtually unimaginable just a few years ago.

Dr. Alexander Kogan commented, “Our ability to maintain patients on ECMO for such prolonged durations demonstrates the remarkable progress we have made in critical care management. The Cardiac Surgery ICU at Sheba Medical Center utilizes cutting-edge technology, highly skilled medical professionals, and a multidisciplinary approach to provide the best possible care for patients requiring advanced life support interventions like ECMO.”

The ability to sustain patients on ECMO for extended periods not only enhances the chances of successful lung transplantation but also offers hope to individuals facing severe respiratory failure due to COVID-19 or other conditions.

“Our success reflects Sheba’s deep commitment to innovation, collaboration, and pushing the boundaries of medical advancements,” added Dr. Levy. “These accomplishments not only improve patient outcomes but also contribute to the advancement of critical care practices and pave the way for new possibilities in the field of lung transplantation and ECMO support.”

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