Gregory Latham, RN, culminated his first year as weekend OR nurse-in-charge last month with an organ transplantation milestone, as he helped orchestrate the nation’s first quintuple (five) lung transplants within a 36-hour period.
In what can aptly be described as a medical miracle, surgeons, nurses and staff, comprising five intensely coordinated thoracic surgical teams, harvested five lungs from three separate donors and transplanted them into five patients within 36 hours. Latham was instrumental in arranging appropriate nursing coverage for the five patients and procedures, as each successive lung became available.
When Dr. Michael Chang, who was the on-call surgeon that weekend, called down to the OR Saturday afternoon, explaining that we had two lungs available, Latham swiftly proceeded to realign onsite resources and to make calls to other nurses to ascertain their availability in order to assemble two teams to accommodate the transplants.
“I had just finished pulling together the first two teams when I received a second call from Dr. Chang. He was confirming the availability of two more lungs for transplantation,” said Latham, who then began to pull together two more teams. “Everyone really pulled together to solidify four thoracic nursing teams in approximately four hours,” he added.
After two successfully completed surgeries on Saturday and two more on Sunday, Latham thought things had finally quieted down until he received notification of yet another available lung shortly after midnight on Monday morning. Latham began to pull together a fifth team for the final procedure.
“The nursing team made everything possible,” said Raphael Bueno, MD, associate chief of BWH Thoracic Surgery and surgical director of the BWH Lung Transplant Program. “Several nurses volunteered to come to work during the weekend of the quintuple lung transplants. It was a display of true dedication.”
Chang echoed Bueno’s sentiments. “The nursing staff did a tremendous job under extremely tight time constraints to secure the resources needed to carry out the five successful transplantations. I am not alone in applauding their hard work,” he said.
Today, all five patients are progressing well; three have been discharged and two are inpatients at BWH. During a well-attended press conference held in Carrie Hall on January 21 to announce the hospital’s significant achievement, Roger Alves, one of the five lung recipients, praised the Nursing staff saying, “The nurses at BWH treated me as though I was one of their own, like family. I cannot express how much I appreciated their wonderful care.”
“I don’t think anyone realized how momentous the five lung transplants were until well after the surgeries had taken place. When you are in the midst of multiple surgeries taking place at the exact same time, you are focused on the task at hand—for my part, I concentrate on the logistics and resources—people, equipment and supplies—that are needed,” said Latham.
“When I finally took a step back and thought through that weekend, I was most amazed by the incredible teamwork exhibited by each and every department that was involved. It makes me very proud to be a part of the BWH team,” Latham added.
Many BWH departments dedicated their time and support to care for these five lung recipients, including Thoracic Surgery, Pulmonary, Anesthesia, Nursing, Emergency Medicine, Respiratory Therapy, Physical Therapy, Pharmacy Services, Central Transport, Food Services, Nutrition, Environmental Services and Engineering.