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Willis Knighton COVID-19 patient to receive lung transplant


SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Shreveport’s Willis Knighton Critical Care staff on Sunday gave a big send-off to a long-term COVID patient to a San Diego facility, where he has been accepted at a transplant center.

For almost two months, Kyle Park’s breathing has been helped with a device called an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation or “ECMO” device, which provides prolonged cardiac and respiratory support for people, whose heart and lungs were unable to breathe on their own.

WK Acute Care nurse Emily Tull explained that an ECMO basically bypasses the lungs and helps oxygenate the patient’s blood, by helping remove the CO-2 out of the blood and giving the patient’s lungs a rest.

“That’s where Kyle was,” Tull said.

Park, a native of Hawaii, has been in the critical care unit at Willis Knighton for 50 days, was notified Saturday that on Sunday, he was going to be transferred to a  San Diego Medical Center where he is on the list to receive a lung transplant.

His sister, Lauren Park said she knows the procedure sounds scary, but knowing that “he’s just sustained through all the ups and downs so far; we’re just really thankful that he has this opportunity get a new pair of lungs”

Park was a 28-year-old graduate student at Tulane when Hurricane Ida hit, and had to evacuate to Texas, which was also the time he began feeling sick.

After his condition worsened and Park was hospitalized in Shreveport, the family got another serious blow – his father died earlier this month in Hawaii, also from COVID-19, as Park recovered here in Shreveport.

“We come together as a team, come together as a hospital, and come together as a community,” Tull said. “Kyle’s not even from here, and we’ve made it. And we’re here and this is the first Willis Knighton and Kyle is going to do great.”

Park’s mother, Elieen Park said, “There were many many moments where he could have died, but he’s still alive today.” Now her son is ready for the next step in his journey back to health — with the Willis Knighton staff cheering him on.

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