Three-time world champion Niki Lauda is recovering in a hospital in Vienna after undergoing a lung transplant on Thursday. The first signs after the operations are encouraging.
Lauda missed the last two Grand Prix after he was believed to suffer from a flu. The Austrian became ill during a recent holiday in Ibiza. However, it was soon apparent this week that the Austrian’s condition is more serious.
Lauda has been in hospital in his home city, Vienna for two weeks. At first, he has been treated because of an influenza virus, but further examination showed that he suffers a pneumonia. However, his condition has worsened which prompted his doctors to decide for a transplantation.
On Thursday, Lauda had to undergo a lung transplant. The three-time world champion has previously had heart surgery and two kidney transplants. After this successful lung transplant surgery, the 69-year-old will be monitored over the next few days to see how his body reacts to the new organs. He is now on the sixth floor of the hospital. Security men are observing his room and the entire floor.
Head of thoracic surgery Prof. Dr. Walter Klepetko said that the operation was necessary as Lauda was in critical state.
“It was really urgent, indeed. Mr Lauda was kept alive with a pump for seven days, the patient is completely conscious (while being on ventilator). It is a condition when there is no alternative to a transplant surgery because patients can be kept alive only for a two-week-long period.”
The search for the right lung lasted only four days as his condition received the highest urgency level. The organ came from Eurotransplant which looks after the organs in the Benelux countries, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia. The lung arrived from the Vienna Schwechat airport under police supervision.
“In case of a transplant surgery, it is not decisive who has been waiting for longer, but who need (the organ) more urgently. The condition of the lung has worsened.”
Klepetko said that the operation was successful and the medical team was delighted with the operation. However, Lauda faces a long recovery period. Because he was on respirator for days, the muscles have to be trained. The first three months are considered as the most critical.