A man on the verge of death due to lung damage from vaping and pneumonia was saved through a makeshift lung using double-D breast implants.
Despite being a healthy 34-year-old, Davey Bauer, who works as a landscaper in St. Louis, Missouri, and enjoys snowboarding, had been a smoker since the age of 21 before switching to vaping in 2014.
“I thought it was the healthier alternative,” Bauer told CNN. ”But, in all honesty, I found it more addicting than cigarettes.”
And in April, when he caught the flu, his life completely changed.
Bauer's condition deteriorated rapidly, causing severe breathing difficulties that required hospitalization in St. Louis due to an antibiotic-resistant pneumonia, prompting the need for ECMO support, a life-support system. Doctors then quickly realized that his last and only hope would be a double lung transplant, and he had to be transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
“The day after he arrived, he basically coded. His heart stopped. They’re doing CPR on him. That’s how sick he was,” Bauer’s doctor, Dr. Ankit Bharat,told CNN. “When we opened the chest, it was full of pus, just yellow, nasty, smelly things.”
Bauer didn’t have time to wait for a donor, and his lungs needed to be removed to clear the infection, so doctors performed an innovative procedure.
Following the removal of his damaged lungs, doctors created an artificial lung to help keep blood flowing. But without lungs, there was a new challenge: His heart could collapse inside his chest. That’s when the double-D breast implants came in handy!
“One of our plastic surgeons was very gracious to give us a rapid-fire course on the different types, shapes, and sizes of breast implants, so we picked out a couple of options, and some of them were easier than others to mold inside Davey’s chest, with the DD option being the best fit,”said Bharat. “I never imagined we’d be using DD breast implants to help bridge a patient to lung transplantation, but our team is known for taking on the most difficult cases and thinking outside the box to save lives.”
The implants remained in Bauer’s body for two days until actual new lungs were transplanted, and he remained in the intensive care unit until Sept. and will stay in Chicago for the next year so doctors can better monitor his recovery.
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