Living Without Lungs?!


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than 2,000 people in the United States received a lung transplant last year. Today, nearly a thousand people are waiting for the lifesaving surgery, and now, surgeons have developed a new innovative way to extend a patient’s life while they’re waiting for a donor. Lungs

Thirty-four-year-old Davey Bauer’s lungs were in terrible shape. A snowboarder, skateboarder, fisherman, and golfer – at 21, Davey smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. Ten years ago, he switched to vaping.

“It’s, honestly, more addicting than cigarettes,” Davey says.

And then, last year, he caught the flu.

Thoracic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine, Ankit Bharat, MD explains, “The lungs, you know, were so heavily infected that they started to liquify and he had developed puss in both his cavities. And, literally, if you look at his x-ray, there’s nothing left.”

(Read Full Interview)

Surgeons at Northwestern Medicine created a new life-saving procedure to save Davey.

Dr. Bharat mentions, “It was very clear to me that he needed a double-lung transplant, but it was also very clear that he would not survive that transplant.”

Dr. Bharat removed Davey’s damaged lungs and created an artificial lung.

“After we took both his lungs out and engineered a system that could be attached to his body and keep his blood flow to the heart, keep his brain and other organs perfused,” Dr. Bharat further explains.

They placed double D breast implants inside his chest cavity to keep his heart in place.

“So, within 24 hours after we took out the lungs, his body started to get better,” Dr. Bharat recalls.

Within 48 hours, Davey had new lungs.

“I can’t even put it into words. I mean, they gave me a second chance at life,” Davey says with relief.

Doctors believe this new procedure could help others survive when they’re out of options, giving their bodies time to heal from infections and giving them the best possible chance of surviving a lung transplant.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor. 

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BACKGROUND: A lung transplant is a surgical procedure in which a patient’s diseased or damaged lungs are replaced with healthy lungs from a donor. It is a complex and life-saving procedure that is typically considered for individuals with end-stage lung disease, where other treatment options have been exhausted, and the prognosis is poor without transplantation. A patient can receive a single-lung or double-lung transplants. About two thousand people per year receive a lung transplant in the United States. Transplants are advised for people who have serious lung problems that are not improving or someone with a life expectancy of 12 to 24 months without a transplant.


DIAGNOSING: Diagnosing the need for a lung transplant involves a comprehensive evaluation process to assess the severity of a patient’s lung disease and determine whether other available treatments have been ineffective. The initial assessment involves a thorough medical history review, physical examination, and various diagnostic tests to determine the extent of lung damage and overall health. If the transplant team declares you as a candidate for a procedure, the transplant center will register your name on a waitlist. While on a waitlist, your healthcare team closely monitors your condition and makes changes accordingly.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new advancement in lung transplantation is the use of robotic devices to assist in procedures. The first-ever assisted lung transplant was performed in 2022 by the Smidt Heart Institute team. The robotic procedure added two small porthole incisions on both sides of the body to create a way for a camera and the robot instrument. These left more room for exact movements and manipulation during procedures. Consolidating movement inside of the body also decreases the pain a patient experiences following surgeries. So far, the robotic techniques have only been used during single-lung transplant surgeries and were limited to the right side of the body. It is believed that the techniques will become the normal standard in years to come.



Jenny Nowatzke

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Ankit Bharat, MD, Thoracic Surgeon

Read the entire Q&A