AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Transplant surgeons at the University of Colorado Hospital performed an amazing medical first for Colorado — the state’s first-ever double lung and liver transplant.
The recipient is a 30-year-old from Nebraska. CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh on Monday met with members of the transplant team and the man whose life they saved.
A patient needing both lungs and a liver is unusual. Since 1994 just 66 double transplant operations have been performed in the United States, and it saved Shaun McCabe’s life.
“We took the risk and so here I am today,” McCabe said.
He was just six days post-surgery and learning to live with new lungs and a new liver. To help prevent infection, Walsh couldn’t enter his room. But McCabe was ready to share his amazing story.
“I was only about 87 pounds going into the surgery,” he said.
McCabe was born with cystic fibrosis. The genetic disease affected his lungs and much more.
“I had the complications to liver disease, I had blood disorders, I had digestive issues,” he said.
Nine months ago McCabe joined the organ transplant waiting list as his lungs and liver were failing rapidly.
“He would not have survived much longer,” Dr. Michael Weyant said.
On March 10 McCabe was in surgery at CU Hospital. Matching lungs and liver had come from the same donor. Weyant led the lung team.
“We began the operation by implanting the lungs,” Weyant said.
Dr. Igal Kam led the liver team.
“It was very smooth and went amazingly well,” Kam said.
The 12-hour surgery was Colorado’s first-ever double lung and liver transplant. Doctors say McCabe’s prognosis is excellent, and he’s already planning his next 30 years.
“If I want to go run marathons and do stuff like that, then I can go and basically do whatever it is I want to do,” he said.
McCabe should be out of the hospital in about a week. He will be monitored closely for danger of organ rejection.
While the surgery was a first for the transplant center, it’s celebrating another milestone. Surgeons have performed a total of 2,000 liver transplants at University and Children’s Hospital since 1988.