New mom survives rare heart and double lung transplant

Diane Chung was just 7 months into motherhood when she underwent the risky procedure.

Diane Chung, 39, had a feeling she might need a lung transplant one day. She had pulmonary hypertension, which was diagnosed in 2007, and an atrial septal defect, a congenital heart condition.

But she had thought her health issues were at bay and certainly didn’t think she would need a lung transplant at such a young age, let alone a heart transplant as well, just seven months into motherhood.

However, last March, after experiencing cardiac arrest, followed by a more than four-month stint on ECMO, a machine that replaces the function of the heart and lungs, she ended up needing a heart and double lung transplant.

“Her heart had become so weakened that just a double lung transplant wouldn’t have been enough to save her,” said Abbas Ardehali, MD, director of the UCLA Health heart and lung transplant program.

Dr. Ardelahi said Chung was the first patient at UCLA Health to receive a heart and double lung transplant post-ECMO. “It was an incredible save given the incredibly risky and rare surgery that she underwent.”

Diane Chung with her husband and daughter. (Photo courtesy of Diane Chung)

Chung received her new lungs and heart in July and is now recovering at home with her husband and daughter, who just celebrated her first birthday.

“The hardest part of this was being away from my daughter. I was so worried I would miss out on seeing her grow up and watching her go through all the baby stages,” said Chung, who had the baby via a surrogate given her underlying health issues. “I feel so lucky to be alive and experience the little pleasures of feeding her baby food and watching her laugh.”

Learn more about UCLA Transplantation Services.