March 24, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Surgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Comprehensive Transplant Center successfully performed the first double lung transplant in central Ohio in a patient who recovered from COVID-19. The lifesaving surgery took place in December. Since then, Ohio State Wexner Medical Center has done three more lung transplants in patients who have had COVID-19.  

Asvin Ganapathi, MD“In severe cases of COVID-19, the body’s usually protective inflammatory response can go into overdrive flooding the lungs with fluid, causing them to stiffen and make breathing difficult,” said Dr. Asvin Ganapathi, cardiothoracic surgeon at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and assistant professor of surgery at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Lung tissue can sustain permanent damage, leaving a transplant as the only viable option for survival.”

Lung transplant recipients with previous COVID-19 infections have significant inflammation which can make the surgery more challenging than usual. These patients are also weaker going into surgery. The transplant team caring for these patients includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, pulmonologists, perfusionists, nurses and coordinators. The first patient, a 40-year-old man from Enon, Ohio, has been discharged from the hospital and is doing well.

“Performing this complex surgery is an example of the exemplary skill of our transplant team and the life-extending benefits of transplant surgery,” said Dr. Kenneth Washburn, executive director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center and director of the Division of Transplantation.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Comprehensive Transplant Center grew in volume by 8% from 2019, transplanting 599 patients in 2020 and ranking #8 for overall organ volume in the United States. For the first time, the lung transplant team finished in the top ten in the United States for volume, ranking #9 with 69 lung transplants and ranking first in the state of Ohio for lung transplantation outcomes. 

“The overall growth of the lung transplant program is a direct result of the multidisciplinary team and the high quality care provided within and in partnership with our Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital,” said Dr. Bryan Whitson, director of the Division of Thoracic Transplantation and professor of surgery at Ohio State College of Medicine.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, there are 107,800 people waiting for a transplant and, of those, more than 1,000 are in need of a lung transplant.


Media Contact: Serena Smith, Wexner Medical Center Media Relations,


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