A new technology saved a pair of lungs — and this man’s life

Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer
Eutana Herzig (right) helps her husband, John Herzig, with his mask as they relax near the pool at the apartment complex where they are living temporarily in Grand Prairie. John is the first patient in Texas to receive a lung transplant with a new set of lungs that were conditioned in UT Southwestern's clinical trial. 


When John Herzig's teal Silverado halted at the airport gates, they were locked.

His wife, Eutana Herzig, phoned the Enid, Okla., police department.

"We need to get in there now," she told police.

There was a new technology in Dallas. A machine that allowed lungs to survive outside the body, long enough for doctors to test and refurbish them.

John needed new lungs. The lungs his body carried for 58 years were scarred and failing. He could barely breathe.

The doctors called it ex-vivo lung perfusion. It's a clinical trial, they explained, but they had a pair of donated lungs and they were his if he could get to Dallas that night. He'd be the first man in Texas to have a transplant with treated lungs.

The medical flight landed on the runway, waiting for him. Eutana, 64, recalls telling the police: "I'm going to take this fence out with my pickup truck. I'll have to spend the night in jail, but he'll get on that flight." Continue reading

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