Two simultaneous lung transplants performed at ISMETT with one donor

Two simultaneous lung transplants from one single donor were performed at ISMETT in Palermo, thanks to the generosity of the family of a young man from Salerno, on two patients with pulmonary fibrosis and in very critical conditions. The two patients had been on the waiting list at ISMETT for one and three years, respectively. Both are currently in good conditions and are already breathing independently with the new lungs.

In most cases, the lungs of a donor are used for a double lung transplant in one patient. However, a single lung transplant can be performed in patients with certain types of diseases and in the presence of specific clinical parameters. Single lung transplant guarantees excellent functional results, and has the advantage that two patients can be treated, instead of only one. “The single lung transplant,” explains Dr. Alessandro Bertani, head of the Thoracic Surgery and Lung Transplantation Unit at ISMETT, “presents no technical or prognostic difficulties. The most critical issue is identifying the indications: depending on the type of disease and on some clinical parameters, such as for example bacterial colonization and differentiated organ damage, we decide which patients can receive a single lung transplant.”

Performing two such interventions simultaneously requires the coordinated efforts of three full surgical, anesthesia and nursing teams: one for the procurement, and two for the transplants. Therefore, the greatest difficulty is performing two complex interventions, such are two lung transplants, at the same time. “The lungs are extremely delicate organs,” says Dr. Bertani. “The number of donors eligible for lung donation is much smaller than other organs such as the liver or kidneys. This is why it’s extremely important to use all available strategies, including single lung transplants, to increase the number of transplants and reduce waiting times for patients on the transplant list.”