Solving the Mystery of a Deadly Transplant Infection

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A thoracic surgeon and surgical director of the Northwestern Medicine® lung transplant program, was determined to identify the cause of a rare and deadly infection seen in a small percentage of lung-transplant recipients. After losing a patient, Harlan Dorbin, to this infection, Dr. Ankit Bharat made a commitment to Mr. Dorbin’s sister, to find the source.

After months of research, using Mr. Dorbin’s story as a case example and testing samples from hospitals around the country, Dr. Bharat was able to identify a specific bacteria which could be successfully treated with antibiotics. Hyperammonemia syndrome is a fatal complication affecting immunosuppressed patients. Dr. Bharat and his team, discovered that those patients who died of hyperammonemia syndrome had a Ureaplasma infection. His study suggest the need to test for this organism while providing the patient with empiric antimicrobrial treatment.

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