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World-first: Experts at UHN, Sinai Health and SickKids develop plan to save critically ill mother and her baby

Medical experts from University Health Network (UHN), Sinai Health’s Mount Sinai Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) collaborated to support a pregnant patient with pulmonary hypertension, through both a successful delivery and a double-lung transplant – saving the mother and her baby.

Physicians recommend that patients with pulmonary hypertension avoid pregnancy, given the high risk of death for the mother and baby. However, Candice Cruise was unaware of her condition until she reached 21 weeks of pregnancy. The usual medical option at this time would have been to terminate the pregnancy as the only way to save the mother in this extremely high-risk situation.

With coordinated expertise of multiple specialists – including thoracic surgeons, respirologists, intensive care physicians, obstetricians, anaesthesiologists, cardiologists, and neonatologists and acute care transport specialists – the team at Toronto General Hospital (TGH), UHN, was able to devise a novel plan, using an artificial lung device called the Novalung. It created an adaptable heart-lung blood flow state to stabilize Candice until she reached 29 weeks of pregnancy, to ultimately deliver her baby, and then carry Candice safely to an urgent double-lung transplant.

Saving both the mother and the baby in this fashion, and then bridging the mother to a successful lung transplant is another world-first achievement of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program, at UHN.

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