Marc Brown is recovering at Vancouver General Hospital, where he owes his life to a new set of lungs.
Brown is one of four COVID-19 patients to receive a double lung transplant at the hospital in the last two months, as doctors fight them from severe cases of the virus.
VGH is the only hospital in B.C. able to perform the procedure, and has done more than any other facility in the country.
“The plan was to put Marc on EKMO, which is kind of a heart-lung bypass machine to give his lungs a rest and give them a chance to heal, but after well over a month and a half, the lungs were just not healing,” his brother Darrin, who has come to B.C. from Ontario to care for Marc, said.
Marc, an otherwise healthy 48-year-old RCMP reservist, fell ill in April after returning to B.C. from a tour of duty in Nunavut.
He had the surgery Sunday, just 11 days after being placed on the transplant list.
“He was at the top of the list because of just how sick he was.”
VGH surgeon Dr. John Yee, who performed all four of the recent double-lung transplants, told Global News the third wave of COVID-19 has produced more severe cases than at any time in the pandemic.
“We’re taking a leap of faith to try and perform lung transplants on these patients, because really there’s no other option,” Yee said.
“They were all previously healthy, working, had families, with no co-morbidities, and they range from early 30s to mid-50s.”
How the patients will take to their new lungs and their long-term prospects remain unclear, Yee added, because of how new COVID-19 is.
Darrin Brown said he hopes his brother’s story will help convince others to register as organ donors, and to take both the virus and the vaccine seriously.
“We were very hesitant about getting vaccine and were going to take wait and see approach and then marc got sick and that just immediately changed our mind,” he said.
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