OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha man has been the first to receive a lung transplant at the Nebraska Medical Center in nearly 20 years.
The Omaha World-Herald reports that 58-year-old Phil Sauvageau, who was seriously ill with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, received the lungs through a six-hour surgery that began around 4:45 a.m. on Jan. 24.
The Nebraska Medical Center is one of a few U.S. institutions to offer all solid-organ transplants under one roof. It started performed lung transplants in 1995, but stopped in 1998 after the departure of one surgeon and the death of another.
The hospital announced in November that it would revive the program after Dr. Michael Moulton began the movement to do so about four years ago.
Sauvageau was pleased to hear this news, as his health began to decline in 2012 because of his pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lungs. He eventually needed portable oxygen, and it became more difficult to move around.
Moulton retrieved the lungs for Sauvageau the day before the surgery, and assisted the surgical director of lung transplantation, Dr. Aleem Siddique, who performed the surgery.
Officials declined to say the donor’s age, gender or circumstances of death, but said that it happened outside Nebraska and that the lungs were strong and healthy.
“The donor’s family has offered not just Phil but other organ recipients an amazing gift,” said Dr. Heather Strah, medical director of lung transplantation. “It is very generous of families to think of the needs of others in times of great sorrow personally.”
Strah said Sauvageau’s prognosis is good and that he’ll receive long-term follow-up care, including testing and pulmonary rehabilitation every day for the next several months. Afterward, he will have checkups every few months for the rest of his life.
Patients who survive their first year after a transplant are typically expected to live seven or eight years. But Strah said she’s seen patients who received patients a decade or two ago who are in relatively good health.
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