One surgeon was praised after performing an incredibly risky operation to remove the lung tumor from a woman aged 30 who had been misdiagnosed as having Covid.
Appearing on BBC2 documentary series Surgeons: At the Edge of Life last night, Dannee, 30, from Cambridge explained that she began struggling to breathe and developed a persistent cough last year.
Six months after her symptoms developed, with doctors initially believing she had Covid, she was diagnosed with a tumour on her right bronchus and underwent surgery at Royal Papworth hospital.
Cardiothoracic surgeon Aman Coonar performed the difficult five-hour surgery, successfully removing the section of bronchus containing the tumour and re-attaching the lung to the airway.
The doctor was praised by viewers for her’mesmerizing’ operation, which, if it failed, would have resulted in Dannee suffering fatal bleeding or losing her lung.
After more than 5,000 operation in his surgical career, Mr. Coonar had to undergo extensive surgery to remove the tumour and section of lung damage. He is pictured making the first incision under Dannee’s armpit before attempting to isolate the tumour filled airway away from the structures around it
Appearing on BBC2 documentary series Surgeons: At the Edge of Life last night cardiothoracic surgeon Aman Coonar performed a high-risk operation to remove a lung tumour from a 30-year-old woman
Mr Coonar’s patient began developing symptoms in March 2020 and was eventually hospitalised with pleurisy and a double chest infection.
Delia, Dannee’s long-term girlfriend said that it was like a car accident.
It’s like your entire life is being turned on its head. It’s hard to watch someone as resilient trying to breath in front of your face.
After being misdiagnosed with Covid, Dannee was sent for an X-ray and the next day was told she had cancer and an infection which had damaged to top part of her lung.
The surgeon was applauded by the viewers. If unsuccessful Dannee could have suffered torrential bleeding and even lost her lung.
He has performed more than 5,000 surgeries in his career as a surgeon. To remove cancerous tissue and to repair the injured section of the lung, Mr. Coonar had to undergo extensive surgery.
It was found in the right bronchus of her right lung.
The surgeon had to perform a sleeve resection, meaning he had to remove the tumour and the damaged upper lobe before carefully re-attaching the lung to the airway.
If he was unsuccessful in re-attaching the lung to the airway then he would have had to perform a pneumonectomy, removing Dannee’s entire lung.
Dannee started to experience symptoms around March 2020. She was ultimately admitted with pleurisy, a second chest infection and other complications.
Dannee suffered some bleeding from the source of her pulmonary artery. A rupture could have been fatal.
Dr. X was able successfully to reattach the lung to windpipe. He said: “When your lung suddenly starts to move and turns pink, and then you can see air coming back into it, that is a beautiful moment.”
‘If this isn’t treated it can make her very, very sick and it can kill her’, said Mr Coonar.
There are two possible outcomes to this operation: Dannee might die from torrential bleeding or Dannee could be left with severe brain damage. I’m unable to attach her remaining lung to her windpipe, and that will result in Dannee losing the entire lung. It is a very dangerous situation.
“A case such as this is always challenging. It is important to prepare for bleeding. We must be able react quickly.
Mr Coonar made the first incision under Dannee’s armpit before attempting to isolate the tumour filled airway away from the structures around it.
He used an endoscope camera to look inside the chest cavity and discovered scar tissue caused by repeated infection which had stuck the bronchus to the blood vessels and tissue around it.
He stated that “When you get to the crux of the matter, it’s very hard to separate the most important parts things can get stuck”. It’s easy to get into the wrong part and cause something to break.
During the surgery, Dannee experienced some bleeding around the origin of the pulmonary artery, where a rupture could prove fatal.
He said, “We might have catastrophic bleeding or terrible bleeding in the pulmonary arterial.”
“I have done many operations and this one is the most difficult. Everything is so tightly bonded that anything could go wrong.”
“I’m not trying to be afraid of failure.
After successfully locating and stopping the bleed, Mr Coonar had to cut away the tumour filled bronchus without causing any more bleeding.
Meanwhile, Dannee’s partner was waiting at home while her girlfriend underwent surgery due to Covid restrictions.
She said, “I don’t want to think about saying goodbye.” I want to be there for every moment.
In the case of a worst-case scenario, Danee and I did have that conversation. This was not an easy conversation to have, frankly i’m terrified’.
After removing the tumour and upper lobe of lung, the tissue sample was sent to pathology to for testing to see if the surgeon had successfully removed the area where the tumour was.
He stated that there was no relief. “Because the next part of the operation starts, and I need to move ahead decisively and quickly. It is necessary to put all of these items back together, and this must be done carefully.
To allow Dannee to have a functioning lung, the surgeon had the task of joining the two parts of Dannee’s airway.
But as When he had pulled her two ends of the tube together, the pulmonary artery ruptured and began to bleed again.
‘The pulmonary artery is just too much in the way and it’s very likely if I do what I planned I’ll end up damaging the pulmonary artery or kinking the airway so air doesn’t go in and out of it properly which would just be a disaster’, said Mr Coonar.
It’s not something a surgeon would like to do. It’s really frustrating for me. It is difficult for me to see the place to stitch next, so I must take charge.
However the surgeon was able to successfully re-attach the lung to the wind pipe, saying: ‘When the lung suddenly moves and becomes pink and you can see the air going back into it is a lovely moment’.
Dannee was able to return home just four days after the surgery. Dannee also received her final post-op check-up at hospital.
“Someone told me, “What are your plans now that you have been given another chance?” she replied.
“It almost felt like wow. I didn’t think it was a second opportunity, so I believe that I’ll continue to live each day as it presents itself now to the best of my ability.”
“Now, she’s going back to her normal life. The infection is gone. All the tumor is out.
The surgery was so amazing that viewers were stunned. One viewer wrote: “Aman Coonar, you’re an absolute genius.” Wow.’
‘I cry every time I watch #surgeonsattheedgeoflife. Another said, “I am in absolute awe at these amazing humans.”
A third commented: ‘Genuinely can’t get over how talented, skilled & calm these people are during the scariest of operations.’
BBCiPlayer has Surgeons at the Edge of Life