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CBS Los Angeles: Huntington Beach Man Receives Minimally Invasive Double-Lung Transplant

CBS Los Angeles recently featured the story of Frank Coburn, the first patient in Southern California—and possibly the U.S.—to receive a double-lung transplant in a new type of minimally invasive procedure led by cardiothoracic surgeon Pedro Catarino, MD, director of Aortic Surgery at the Smidt Heart Institute.

Coburn, 57, an avid motorcycle rider, was diagnosed in March 2020 with pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes scarring in the lungs. Catarino and the team at the Cedars-Sinai Women’s Guild Lung Institute determined that Coburn needed a double-lung transplant. The complex procedure usually involves breaking the patient's breast bone, making an armpit-to-armpit incision and connecting the patient to a heart-lung machine.

Coburn, who had feared a motorcycle ride last fall would be his last, was grateful to be placed on the transplant list in March 2021 after extensive testing. But he worried about his post-op appearance. "I was concerned about the scar," Coburn told CBS Los Angeles. "I ride shirtless often."

When a pair of lungs became available just five days later, Catarino performed the transplant using a minimally invasive technique developed in Germany. "We can do it now through a really quite small incision with special instruments which are designed for minimally invasive surgery," Catarino told CBS Los Angeles. "We call it a credit card-size incision."

Almost two months post-surgery, Coburn, who had been on oxygen since his diagnosis, was already planning his next ride. "I can live, I can breathe," he told CBS Los Angeles. "I just consider myself highly lucky, highly fortunate."

Click here to view the complete video from CBS Los Angeles.