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HEALTH Ohio State hospital performs its first heart-lung transplant

Friday, February 11, 2005

Last year, there were only 71 such operations performed.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- A patient at Ohio State University's heart hospital received a new heart and lungs in a four-hour operation, the university's first heart-lung transplant.
Michelle Vulhop, 33, of Ironton, was born with a complex heart defect that kills half of the babies who have it within their first year.
She went into surgery Tuesday evening weighing 81 pounds, knowing that without the operation she wouldn't live another year. Vulhop had waited for the organs for five years.
"We had no hope. We kept being told, 'Just take her home, enjoy her. Just enjoy her life,'" said Vulhop's mother, Rachel Vulhop. "From the day she was born, I had to plan for her funeral."
Heart-lung transplants are rare, with surgeons performing 71 worldwide and 35 in the United States last year. The 11 other heart-lung transplants performed in Ohio were done at the Cleveland Clinic, said Dr. Benjamin Sun, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at OSU's Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.
Both of Vulhop's lungs were transplanted, as is the case with almost all heart-lung transplants.
The hospital said the organs came from the same person but would not release other information on the donor.
Sun said Vulhop has progressed as well as doctors could hope for. If her progress continues, she should be able to go home in two or three weeks and begin an active life, Sun said.
Ironton is about 100 miles south of Columbus.