Man died after coughing up lung after heart surgery

Ben Davidson
December 8, 2018

Doctors speculated the clot stayed intact due to a higher-than-usual concentration of a particular protein component of blood plasma, caused by the man's infection, which could have made the blood in his airways unusually rubbery.

The mysterious, cherry-red cast resembles a piece of coral and an image of it has gone viral after appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Per the New England Journal of Medicine, the man was an ICU patient at the University of San Francisco Medical Center being treated for end-stage heart failure.

He had been hooked up to a ventricular assist device - used to help circulate blood around the body - and administered anti-coagulation therapy (blood thinners).

The report said that during an "extreme bout of coughing", the patient coughed up a 6-inch wide blood clot of his right bronchial tree.

It was originally folded in on itself, and the treating doctor, Georg Wieselthaler and his team carefully unfolded it, and were shocked at what they saw.

"An Impella ventricular assist device was placed for management of acute heart failure, and a continuous heparin infusion was initiated for systemic anticoagulation".

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When Wieselthaler and his team delicately spread out the clot, they discovered "that the architecture of the airways had been retained so perfectly that they were able to identify it as the right bronchial tree based exclusively on the number of branches and their alignment".

"We were astonished", he said.

The man was later taken off the intubator after he stopped coughing up blood.

His trachea was then intubated, with the flexible bronchoscopy revealing a small amount of blood in the basilar branches of the right lower lobe of his lungs.

A week later, the man died from complications of heart failure.

After being supplied oxygen via a tube, the man's coughing ceased two days later, leading to the removal of the tube.

"It's a curiosity you can't imagine".

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