December 2, 2023

Ilana Arougheti | Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Earlier than David “Davey” Bauer made historical past at Northwestern Drugs for a double lung transplant assisted by a pair of DD breast implants, he thought of himself a reasonably wholesome man.

Bauer, 34, spent his hours off from his landscaping job in De Soto, Missouri — close to St. Louis — {golfing}, snowboarding and skateboarding. Cigarettes, he thought, have been the one destructive. A former smoker who went by way of a pack a day for 4 years, Bauer switched to vaping in 2014.

“I believed it appeared like a safer different,” Bauer mentioned. “In hindsight, it looks as if I ought to have simply give up sooner … it’s not good to inhale something in your lungs, aside from oxygen, clearly.”

So when Bauer entered an pressing care clinic outdoors of St. Louis in April with the flu, he anticipated to get well quick.

“They have been identical to, ‘He’s obtained the flu, there’s somewhat little bit of pneumonia in his lungs, right here’s a Z-Pak, you’re good to go,’” Susan Gore, Bauer’s girlfriend of seven years, mentioned at a information convention Wednesday. “And the subsequent day he couldn’t stroll.”

The flu had become a lung an infection proof against antibiotics. On April 17, Bauer entered the intensive care unit at Saint Louis College Hospital. He was moved onto a ventilator, then right into a medically induced coma.

SLU Hospital refused to carry out a lung transplant, saying Bauer was too sick to outlive. After the hospital referred to as the Northwestern Drugs Canning Thoracic Institute, Gore and Bauer relocated to Chicago in late Could.

Bauer’s surgical procedure was “uncharted territory” for this system, mentioned Dr. Rade Tomic, medical director of the Northwestern Drugs Canning Thoracic Institute Lung Transplant Program.

“We knew that to get him listed (for a transplant), we needed to resolve the an infection,” Tomic mentioned. “The one option to resolve the an infection was really taking the lungs out.”

The surgical crew eliminated Bauer’s contaminated lungs and cleaned out his chest cavity. To maintain his physique alive with out lungs, the crew wanted to create channels for blood to move out and in of his coronary heart, mentioned Dr. Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgical procedure and director of the Canning Thoracic Institute.

That’s the place a pair of DD breast implants got here in.

“We wanted one thing to help his coronary heart, and the DD breast implants appeared to be the proper match,” Bharat mentioned Wednesday, as Bauer and Gore exchanged grins. “And admittedly, they have been the most important we might get on the time.”

With Bauer’s coronary heart stabilized between the implants, surgeons created a synthetic lung outdoors Bauer’s physique. The thoracic surgical procedure crew collaborated with plastic surgeons for a “crash course” on working with breast implants.

After the very fact, Bauer mentioned he was capable of snort at his scientific cleavage, adopting the nickname “Double-D Davey.”

“I didn’t know a lot of it till after the very fact,” Bauer mentioned Wednesday. “I believed it was superior. Sort of humorous.”

“I used to be like, ‘You get boob implants, however I don’t?’” Gore quipped.

Bauer was quickly properly sufficient to be listed for a double lung transplant. Two new lungs have been obtainable inside 24 hours, and each have been put in Could 28, at which level the implants have been eliminated.

“I really feel so blessed,” Bauer mentioned. “I imply, it’s unbelievable. I obtained a second probability at life.”

Bauer’s profitable surgical procedure was buoyed not solely by the implants, however by good luck, Bharat mentioned. It’s uncommon that two wholesome lungs turn out to be obtainable inside 24 hours, and holding Bauer steady between procedures — to not point out restarting his coronary heart — was sophisticated.

Bharat had anticipated that the momentary circulation system, with Bauer’s coronary heart nestled between the breast implants, might preserve him alive for a few month.

“We have been actually shocked how briskly he recovered as soon as we took out his contaminated lungs,” Bharat mentioned.

Bharat hopes the process can be utilized once more sooner or later to stabilize individuals who want a lung transplant, however are too sick to obtain new organs instantly.

“That is the primary time, actually, this method was used,” Bharat mentioned. “It has taught us quite a bit and hopefully can be utilized for different sufferers.”

Bauer was positioned on dialysis whereas he recovered, and developed foot drop, a nerve compression impacting the motion of his foot. He additionally had myocarditis within the lining of his coronary heart, and nonetheless speaks by way of a tracheostomy tube in his throat.

Nonetheless, Bauer is anticipated to make a full restoration — although he says he won’t ever vape once more.

“I really feel much more like myself earlier than all of this,” Bauer mentioned. “I’m getting higher on daily basis.”

Tomic hopes that Bauer’s expertise discourages sufferers from seeing vaping as a wholesome substitute for cigarettes.

“We all know that vaping may cause damage to the lungs, and in addition that flu may cause deadly outcomes, life-threatening infections,” Tomic mentioned.

Bauer was discharged from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in late September. He’ll stay in Chicago for an additional yr in outpatient care.

A fundraiser supporting Bauer’s restoration has raised simply over $34,000 to this point.

Bauer mentioned he misses watching the St. Louis Cardinals play at Busch Stadium. He and Gore have settled in River North in the intervening time, although, with canine Penny and Bear.

“House is the place the center is, and that is my coronary heart,” Gore mentioned. “So, that is the place he’s, and that is the place we’re.”


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