Twenty-percent of people needing a lung transplant will die waiting for one. Unlike damaged kidneys or hearts, doctors say it's very difficult to keep injured lungs working long enough to get a transplant.
Yen Tran is lucky to be alive. Last December, she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension.
Pulmonary hypertension constricts vessels that lead to the lungs, making it nearly impossible for the heart to get oxygen-rich blood to the lungs.
"Many patients die of this disease, and it can be quite rapidly progressive," said Tom Waddell, MD, PhD.
A lung transplant can help, but many die before they get one. Yen was in the ICU waiting for a new lung when her heart stopped.
"If the physicians had stopped compressing her chest, she was dead," said Waddell.
Yen was kept alive with this new artificial lung called the Novalung. She was the first person in North America to get it.
"In general, the results have been quite good for a group of patients that ultimately would face certain death," said Waddell.
The novalung bought Yen time until a donor lung was found.
Source: ABC 7 Chicago
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