The life of a Chicago man diagnosed with terminal lung cancer went from "zero to 100" after receiving a double lung transplant.
Albert Khoury, 54, received a successful transplant six months ago on Sept. 25, 2021, at Northwestern Medicine and currently has no signs of cancer left in his body, giving hope the procedure could help others, the hospital said on Thursday.
"My life went from zero to 100 because of Northwestern Medicine,” Khoury said. “You didn’t see this smile on my face for over a year, but now I can’t stop smiling. My medical team never gave up on me.”
Transplantation is "extremely uncommon" in lung cancer patients, with only a few prior cases being reported. Although he had stage 4 cancer, doctors thought Khoury, a nonsmoker, was a good candidate because his cancer was confined to his chest, the release said.
"One of the biggest fears of performing a transplant on anyone who has cancer is the risk of recurrence after the transplant,” said Dr. Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery at Northwestern Medicine. “All transplant patients require medications to control their immune system, which has an immune-suppressive effect. The concern is that if you suppress someone’s immune system and they have lingering cancer cells in the body, those will flare up very quickly.”
Khoury was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer in early 2020, and it quickly escalated to stage 4, which previous doctors had said meant "no chance of survival," according to the release.
A year later after consulting doctors at Northwestern Medicine and two weeks on the transplant list, Khoury got his second chance at life.
As a result of the successful procedure, the hospital is exploring a new set of protocols for treating lung cancer patients and is in the process of starting a clinical registry, the release said.