The Stitch

Lung Institute team performs successful rare dual transplant

Larry Nesler standing with Dr. Gabriel Loor, Dr. Puneet Singh Garcha and Dr. John Goss.As one of the top 10 lung transplant centers in the U.S., the Lung Institute combines the expertise of Baylor College of Medicine physicians in the Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, the David J. Sugarbaker Division of Thoracic Surgery and the Division of Abdominal Transplantation. Recently, members of the Institute performed a successful rare dual transplant for Larry Nesler.

Nesler did not smoke, yet he needed a lung transplant. He was not a heavy drinker, yet he needed a liver transplant. Even if they could locate a liver/lung match, at 63 years old, he would be considered a high-risk candidate for a dual transplant. And it was during the height of the pandemic.

“These diagnoses were a real surprise,” Nessler said. “I was in shock. I told myself, ‘This can’t be.’ I had a very bad hand dealt to me.”

Despite not knowing the causes, Nesler’s lung capacity rapidly declined, making simple tasks difficult. Survival depended on acceptance into an organ transplant program, but he faced rejection from the transplant center in his home state due to concerns about surviving major surgery.

However, Nessler received approval from the transplant team at Baylor and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and rented an apartment nearby to stay in constant contact with his medical team, including Dr. Gabriel Loor, Dr. Puneet Singh Garcha and Dr. John Goss. After a three-month wait, he received a match for both a lung and a liver and had the surgery that day. Following a more than 10 hour surgery, Nesler had a new lung and liver and was on the road to recovery.

“Nesler’s case was complicated since he was older than 50 and in need of a dual organ transplant,” explained Loor, Baylor Medicine cardiothoracic surgeon and surgical director of the Lung Transplant Program at Baylor St. Luke’s. “There is not a lot of experience with this combination, but we drew on our collective experience with surgery in high-risk scenarios to ensure the safest outcomes.”

During his three-week hospital stay, Nesler emphasized the remarkable support he received from the Lung Institute medical team, saying, “I had people who really cared about me. This group, from the doctors to the nurses to the assistants to the fellows, was just remarkable. I’m not on the face of this earth without that group.”

After returning home, Nesler made a full recovery, embracing life and spending quality time with his family and young grandchildren.

By Tiffany Harston, communications specialist in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery

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