BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Doctors at John Hopkins are continuing to study the long-term effects of COVID-19 and are now looking to see if some survivors may require lung transplants.

There is still a lot uncertainty about the effects of COVID-19 after recovery, but doctors do know that some patients’ lungs won’t be the same after getting the virus if they experience what’s called severe acute respiratory distress syndrome.

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“There are some patients we know who are unable to come off a breathing machine, and we’ve seen in other centers across the country a few case reports of people who’ve gone onto require a lung transplant in order to survive from their COVID-19,” Dr. Brian Garibaldi, Johns Hopkins Medical Director Biocontainment Unit, said. 

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Dr. Garibaldi said experts are looking to see if a lung transplant is necessary for those with some of the most severe cases of COVID-19, like people who were on a breathing machine for weeks and couldn’t get off it.

“It’s possible that some of those patients may progress or develop persistent lung problems,” Dr. Garibaldi said.

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That may be a sign of lung damage which could mean they require the transplant.

“We honestly don’t know if that’s going to happen, but we’ve seen that happen in other types of diseases that cause permanent lung damage,” Dr. Garibaldi said.

He said it’s important for anyone who’s survived a severe case of the coronavirus to regularly visit a doctor to see if they have long-term problems.

“You know it’s an important reminder for folks that previously healthy people can get really sick with this disease and it’s not something to be trifled with,” Dr. Garibaldi said.

Dr. Garibaldi added that he doesn’t think this is going to be a widespread problem for every patient, but it’s something they’re watching for as they continue to try to understand potential chronic problems caused by the virus.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Stetson Miller