Ukraine is among 50 countries capable of lung transplantation
Operations of this type are considered to be among the most complex. Only countries with advanced and developed medical systems are able to perform them.
Although Ukraine has just begun its development in this area, since the beginning of 2023, 3 independent lung transplants have already been performed. At the same time, one such operation was performed in the period from 2021 to 2023, which was possible due to the help of Polish doctors.
Our country's experience in developing a transplantation system, including lung transplants during the active phase of hostilities, can be considered unique. No other civilized country has ever faced such challenges.
“Our foreign colleagues are extremely surprised when we tell them that we have transplants during the war, because organ transplants are performed exclusively in developed countries, where the overall medical system functions well and efficiently. And, of course, there are no large-scale armed conflicts in these countries,” says Vasyl Strilka, Director of the Directorate for High-Tech Medical Care and Innovation at the Ministry of Health.
To perform high-tech organ transplants, every link of the large medical mechanism must work stably: from laboratories, operating rooms and hospitals that diagnose brain death to logistics chains. Progress in this area demonstrates not only the professionalism of our doctors and compliance with international standards of the transplantation system, but also the sustainability of the entire medical system.
THE STARTING POINT FOR LUNG TRANSPLANTATION
In September 2021, doctors of the Lviv Territorial Medical Association, together with their Polish colleagues, performed the first lung transplant. Then, thanks to the joint efforts of professional teams from the two countries, they managed to give a second wind to Lviv resident Viktor Babii. The man, who had not left home for almost three years before the operation, is now living a full life.
To speed up the time when Ukraine will be able to perform as many lung transplants as possible on its own, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine sent a group of transplantologists for training at leading US clinics. The multidisciplinary team, which included 13 specialists of various medical specialties involved in organ transplantation, went to learn from the experience. 11 of them came from Feofaniya Hospital.
From October to December 2021, Ukrainian specialists were involved in all stages of transplantation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. This hospital is a clinical site for Harvard Medical School. It has helped raise 13 Nobel laureates.
Ukrainian transplant surgeons also had the opportunity to learn from the operating rooms of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee. Every year, this center performs about 60-65 lung transplants.
DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH-TECH MEDICAL CARE IN LVIV
In early January 2023, transplant surgeons at St. Panteleimon Hospital in Lviv performed the first independent lung transplantation. The surgical intervention took place without the help of foreign colleagues. The transplant team, led by cardiac surgeon Roman Domashych, worked for more than 16 hours.
The organ was received by a 56-year-old Kyiv resident, a liquidator of the Chernobyl accident. He was diagnosed with total bullous emphysema, a disease in which air cysts replace healthy lung tissue. The man's condition was serious. He could walk no more than 30 meters on his own and could hardly breathe. The donor for the Kyiv resident was a 54-year-old man who died as a result of a stroke. After doctors diagnosed brain death, his family agreed to the organ donation.
APPLICATION OF THE EXPERIENCE OF U.S. SPECIALISTS BY THE FEOFANIYA TRANSPLANT TEAM
In March 2023, the team of Feofaniya Clinical Hospital performed its first lung transplant in Ukraine. A 51-year-old man who had interstitial lung disease complicated by pulmonary hypertension received a new organ and a chance for life. Two weeks before the transplantation, the patient suffered from covid, which seriously complicated his condition. All the time before the operation, he lived only thanks to constant oxygen support.
The operation lasted 12 hours. Most of the time, the recipient was connected to the ECMO heart-lung machine. The donor was a 60-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with brain death due to a hemorrhagic stroke.
According to the Unified State Transplantation Information System, more than 40 patients are currently waiting for lung transplants in Ukraine. All organ transplants take place within the framework of the Ministry of Health's pilot transplantation project. The tariff for lung transplantation is set at UAH 2.6 million. All operations are free of charge for patients and are fully covered by the Ministry of Health.