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Critical COVID-19 patient in China saved by lung transplant now able to stand up

(People's Daily Online)    13:41, June 18, 2020
Critical COVID-19 patient in China saved by lung transplant now able to stand up

Cui Zhiqiang, a 65-year-old COVID-19 patient who was brought back from the brink of death thanks to a double-lung transplant in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province, was able to stand steadily for a minute while gripping the handles of a standing aid on June 14, China Central Television (CCTV) reported Wednesday.

For Cui, that precious one minute was like a rebirth, as he had spent more than four months in hospital after being diagnosed with novel coronavirus pneumonia on Feb.2.

Cui was the first lung transplant recipient among end-stage COVID-19 patients who eventually returned negative nucleic acid tests in Hubei.

The double-lung transplant operation at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University lasted six hours, from the evening of April 20 to after 1 a.m. the next day. Before that, Cui had been dependent on an ECMO machine, an artificial lung that allowed him to breathe, for 62 days.

Cui was first hospitalized at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital. He was then transferred to the east branch of Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University on March 17, when his original lungs were already in end-stage pulmonary fibrosis and had lost all functions, according to Li Guang, associate chief physician of the department of critical care medicine of Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University.

Cui was removed from the ECMO machine two days after the lung transplantation. One week after the transplant, the chest tubes inserted into Cui’s left and right pleural cavities were taken away.

On May 1, the urinary catheter and peripherally inserted central catheter were also removed from Cui. 

More than 50 days since the operation, the transplanted lungs have fully adapted to Cui’s body and achieved normal lung function.

Cui now breathes with the help of a normal nasal catheter, and his oxygen saturation of the blood can reach 99 percent, Li disclosed.

Besides regular treatment methods, the hospital has also drawn up a series of rehabilitation plans to accelerate Cui’s recovery, which cover sensory and auditory stimulation, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, and joint mobility exercise.

Cui is now the only patient in Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University’s infectious disease ward, which used to have 30 beds.

At least ten medical workers took shifts to take care of Cui, doing their best to guard the patient 24 hours a day.

Deeply touched by the efforts made by the medical workers to save him, Cui left a “Thank you” note in his bed.

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to them. I can’t say ‘thank you’ to every one of them, but I can let them see my gratitude from the note. Thank you,” Cui said. 


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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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