Sergio was diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2021, which is when his fight to survive began
By Fernando Zamora - 06/06/2024 Photo TECSALUD Communications

Sergio Malacón Villanueva, who was the first person to undergo a highly complex double-lung transplant at TecSalud, has been discharged after more than two years of fighting to survive.

Sergio’s case was very special according to Dr. René Gómez, director of the EMCO and Cardiopulmonary Support Therapies Program at TecSalud.

We asked for opinions from other parts of the world, and everyone expressed their concern at the complexity of the case.”

We analyzed all the risks up until the time of the transplant surgery, and it was a complete success,” said the doctor.


Sergio Malacón Villanueva, primer paciente de trasplante bipulmonar en TecSalud.


Now, after six months of recovery, Sergio has returned home to continue the process of getting used to and learning to breathe with his new lungs.

I can’t deny that I’m nervous but, at the same time, I’m very happy to get some closure on this part of the process,” he said.


He was first put on life support

It all started in 2021 when Sergio contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized at TecSalud’s San José Hospital.

We were lucky to find him a bed, because at that time hospitals were overflowing with cases of the disease,” said Sergio’s father.

Due to lung failure caused by his severe pneumonia, his doctors recommended that he be given ECMO therapy,” he added.


Oxigenación por membrana extracorpórea o ECMO permite a los pulmones recuperarse mientras realiza sus funciones.


According to Dr. Gomez, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, is used as support when the lungs require help with their normal function.

Such supportive therapies allow patients to remain well oxygenated while their lungs recover from severe failure.”

It performs the functions of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide and keeps the patient in the same condition as if they were using their lungs,” he shared.


Then his lungs began to fail

After this, Sergio went through a brief period of recovery. However, his lungs then began to fail, and the possibility of a transplant was considered.


Doctor Martín Hernández Torre, especialista en neumología, discutiendo el caso con el doctor René Gómez.


He had very severe infections and underwent lung surgery to treat the pneumothorax, so a lung transplant was considered in early 2023,” shared Sergio’s mother.

We thought it was just the right lung, but suddenly the left lung said, ‘I’m not working, either,’” she said.

It was then that the process of obtaining the new organs was carried out. After a long wait, the ideal lungs for Sergio arrived.

I was scared, mostly because I didn’t know what the surgery would involve, and what the follow-up and treatment would be like.”

But when the doctors talked to me about the benefits it could bring to my life, I understood that it was the best option in my case,” he said.


With the transplant came the hope of life

The transplant took place in December 2023, and he then underwent recovery and rehabilitation for six months.

The first few days were quite difficult because I was in a lot of pain and because I was used to having machines to help me breathe,” Sergio admitted.

Through rehabilitation and exercises, I’ve gradually been adapting to breathing on my own,” he said.

According to pulmonologist Martín Hernández Torre, who has been treating Sergio, he will be able to return to normal activities in due course: “He’ll be able to go to school, exercise, and lead a normal life.”


Sergio permaneció en Terapia Intensiva durante varios años.


Sergio is now at home, after several years of struggling to breathe, and both he and his parents expressed the importance of organ donation in offering a chance at life to those who need it.

We know that another family is feeling the pain of a lost loved one whom God called to him and that, in the midst of that pain, they decided to donate their organs,” shared Sergio’s father.

We need to raise awareness about organ donation in Mexico because, as the saying goes, there’s no transplant without a donor,” he added.






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