This Mom Had No Lungs For SIX Days. That's The Only Reason She's Alive

February 1, 2017

Surgeons took a revolutionary and radical step to save the life of a woman losing a battle against a severe infection. They kept her alive for six days with no lungs until she received a transplant.

woman
Credit: Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press

Melissa Benoit was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that causes a buildup of phlegm in the lungs.

In April last year, the 32-year-old mother arrived at Toronto General Hospital with a severe lung infection. She had suffered from regular lung infections since her early twenties due to her cystic fibrosis. However, the bacteria had developed resistance to antibiotics.

As the hospital graphically described it: "Her inflamed lungs began to fill with blood, pus, and mucus, decreasing the amount of air entering her lungs, similar to a person drowning."

Her only hope of recovery was a lung transplant. But no donor lungs were available.

The doctors took the brave but risky decision to carry out an operation anyway. A team of 13 undertook the nine-hour surgery on Melissa.

Her body was hooked up to two external life support circuits that she lived on for six days until donor lungs became available.

Watch the interview with Melissa here:

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