MADISON, Wis. (NewsNation Now) — The University of Wisconsin hospital recently discharged its first double lung transplant patient caused by COV ID-19.
Two weeks after her surgery Carmen Lerma was able to leave the hospital and hug her family members for the first time in months.
“It’s been almost 4 months of this journey, but here I am,” Lerma said.
From a coronavirus diagnosis, Lerma’s doctors decided the damage done required a lung transplant.
“So she was really stuck, she was well enough that she wasn’t in the hospital, but still too sick to be able to go home and live her life and see her family. And because over the course of several months following her recovery she did not demonstrate significant improvement in her lung function, we decided at that point that transplant really was the only way to get her back to the life she lived,” said Dr. Dan McCarthy from UW Hospital said.
After spending a couple of days on the transplant list, Lerma was matched with a donor.
“Her lung function was significantly worse than the average transplant person that we see,” Dr. McCarthy added.
After the surgery, Dr. McCarthy is hoping to use this case to help others as the COVID-19 continues to spread.
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“We are worried with the amount of COVID that we are seeing not only in the U.S. but in our area in Wisconsin, that there may be more patients like Carmen in the future, who are able to make it through the acute phase of their COVID illness but who may never return to their normal lung function that they had before they got sick. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future we end up having to do more of these transplants,” he said.
As for Lerma, she was able to leave two weeks after her surgery and see her family.
“My heart was pounding; I haven’t seen them in a while, so just to get up and come to them, it’s priceless,” she said.
Her husband, Hector added, “It’s been a long while.”
Lerma’s brother Mario was there was well.
“It was amazing to see her for the first time,” Hector said. “Actually, physically touching her and giving her a hug, we haven’t been able to do that in over like 5 months now.”
Lerma’s doctors said she still has a long way to go and will need to be monitored for the foreseeable future.