Tannaz Ameli: Woman, 64, defeats terminal stage 4 lung cancer after undergoing rare double lung transplant
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: A 64-year-old Minnesota woman has reportedly become the second person to successfully defeat terminal stage 4 lung cancer after undergoing a rare double lung transplant. Tannaz Ameli was pronounced cancer-free after she received the surgery at Northwestern Medicine in June 2022.
Ameli, a retired nurse from Minneapolis, suffered a chronic cough in late 2021 when she went to her doctor's office to investigate the coughing bouts. The doctors immediately did a chest X-ray and diagnosed her with pneumonia. But tragically her illness lingered until she was informed that she has stage 4 lung cancer. She underwent several ineffective chemotherapy treatments and was ultimately transferred to a hospice for end-of-life care, according to Daily Mail.
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"I begged my doctors in Minnesota to consider a lung transplant, but they wouldn't do it. Luckily, my husband refused to give up and pushed for a second opinion," Ameli said. Her husband then contacted Northwestern Medicine, inquiring about a possible transplant. The doctors determined that Ameli met their requirements, and in July 2022, she received a second lung transplant. With successful results, Ameli joined Albert Khoury, 54, who was the first to receive the treatment in September 2021.
Who is Albert Khoury?
Khoury, who worked as a cement finisher for the Chicago Department of Transportation, started suffering back pain, sneezing, chills and coughing up mucus in early 2020. Initially, he thought he had Covid-19 but things came out even worse after he began coughing up blood. Khoury was eventually found to have stage 1 lung cancer, but because of the epidemic, he was unable to begin treatment right away. Despite multiple rounds of chemotherapy, his cancer kept getting worse and ultimately reached stage 4.
Then his sister convinced him to schedule an appointment after she saw a news article about lung transplants being performed for Covid-19 patients at Northwestern Medicine. As Khoury waited for his treatment, his condition deteriorated and he developed pneumonia and sepsis that put him on a ventilator in the intensive care unit.
Doctors soon executed an extremely careful seven-hour operation and took cancer out of Khoury’s body. Just like Ameli, Khoury has no signs of cancer in his body and can go back to work. "My life went from zero to 100 because of Northwestern Medicine. 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," Khoury shared.
What is Northwestern Medicine's new DREAM program?
Dr Ankit Bharat, Northwestern's chief of thoracic surgery, recently revealed that lung transplants for patients at the fourth stage would usually be a "complete no-no" but luckily Ameli and Khoury’s cancer did not spread beyond their lungs. The Northwestern Medical doctors' team developed a novel surgical operation in order to treat cancer while reducing the chance that it may spread.
"This innovative technique involves putting the patient on full heart and lung bypass, delicately taking both cancer-ridden lungs out simultaneously along with the lymph nodes, washing the airways and the chest cavity to clear cancer, and then putting new lungs in," said Dr Bharat. The new DREAM program at Northwestern brings hope to other terminal lung cancer patients. The outcomes of the program's first 75 patients will be monitored in new research to track the results of transplants.