Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Transplant patient gets needed organs after first set went down in UM plane crash

ANN ARBOR - A Michigan man whose double lung transplant operation was stopped earlier this week after a plane carrying donor organs crashed and killed all six people on board has received a second set of lungs, doctors announced yesterday.

Meanwhile, divers recovered the plane's flight voice recorder from Lake Michigan near Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Police Capt. Christopher Domagalski said divers found the voice recorder, but it hasn't been reviewed yet. He said he had no more information.

Keith Holloway, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said divers identified a debris field containing much of the plane's wreckage on the lake bottom yesterday.

The plane was bringing members of the University of Michigan Health System's organ transplant team back with a double lung scheduled for transplant.

Surgeons at the university's hospital canceled the operation, leaving the 50-year-old man in critical condition.

He remained in critical condition yesterday following a more than seven-hour surgery to transplant the second double lung that became available. That operation began Wednesday night and ended early Thursday, the health system said.

"We are relieved that we were able to do this transplant," said Dr. Jeffrey Punch of the University of Michigan. "Our friends that died in the crash would have wanted us to go on with our work."

The patient's name wasn't released at his family's request.

, already was prepped for surgery, with his chest cut open and his lungs exposed to the air in the operating room, when the initial operation was stopped Monday evening, doctors said.

Because of the aborted surgery, the patient was moved even higher on the waiting list for a double lung transplant, said Dr. Andrew C. Chang, surgical director of lung transplant and assistant professor of general thoracic surgery.

Dr. Chang said the man's lung allocation score went up after he was put back on the waiting list Tuesday morning.

The patient, a longtime smoker, needed the transplant because of a condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, the health system said. He had been on the waiting list for a double lung transplant since November.

The second set of organs was flown by chartered plane from an unidentified donor hospital to Willow Run Airport near Ypsilanti. A transplant donation specialist met the plane and transported the organs to the hospital on a Survival Flight helicopter.

Dr. Punch said the only people aboard the chartered flight were the pilot and co-pilot.

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