Lauda undergoes lung transplant

Reports that Niki Lauda was released from hospital earlier this week were way off the mark, instead the Formula 1 legend’s condition was so grave that he underwent a lung transplant in Vienna on Thursday.

Initially, we were informed by Mercedes that 69-year-old Lauda missed the German Grand Prix and the Hungarian Grand Prix because of a bout of “summer flu” and that he was on the road to recovery.

However, his condition was far more serious as it turned out to be a severe lung disease that caused him to be hospitalised which the Mercedes media office was probably unaware of at the time.

Numerous outlets mistakenly reporting that he was released, but this was clearly not the case.

On Thursday, the Vienna General Hospital reported on their website: “Due to a severe lung disease, Niki Lauda had to undergo a lung transplantation at the AKH Vienna today. The transplantation was successfully performed by Walter Klepetko, Head of the Clinical Department of Thoracic Surgery, and Konrad Hötzenecker.”

“We ask for your understanding that the family will not make any public statements and request the privacy of the Lauda family.”

Lauda, who was badly burned in a near-fatal Formula One crash in 1976 and later became an airline entrepreneur, was taken ill recently. Austrian media had said he was being treated in hospital, though reports had not mentioned a transplant.

Lauda, 69, won three Formula One world championships and his rivalry with British driver James Hunt was the subject of the film “Rush”. He recently agreed to sell control of his Laudamotion airline to Ryanair.

Lauda is also a team boss and shareholder of the Mercedes Formula 1 team.

Lung transplant information:

  • Only about 55 percent of patients survive five years after the transplant. Only a third of patients live 10 years.
  • The operation takes 4 to 8 hours. In most cases, the lung with the worst function is removed. For double lung transplants, the cut is made below the breast and reaches to both sides of the chest. Surgery takes 6 to 12 hours.
  • Long-term survival after a lung transplant is not as promising as it is after other organ transplants, like kidney or liver. Still, more than 80% of people survive at least one year after lung transplant. After three years, between 55% and 70% of those receiving lung transplants are alive.
  • Getting back to normal. It usually takes at least three to six months to fully recover from transplant surgery.
  • Complications associated with a lung transplant can sometimes be fatal. Major risks include rejection and infection.


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