Jackson’s former chief of obstetrics and director of maternity services receives life-saving double-lung transplant from The Lung Center and the Miami Transplant Institute

By: Krysten Brenlla
For Dr. Salih Yasin, 70, bringing new life into the world as the former chief of obstetrics and director of maternity services at Jackson Health System was not just a job, it was his passion. For 36 years, Dr. Yasin built an extensive career and community in maternity, obstetrics, and fetal services at Jackson, helping new parents start their families.

Although his lifestyle changed when he retired from his position in 2020, he continued giving free lectures for medical students, kept up with household chores, gardened, and spent much-needed time with his family.

Dr. Yasin never expected that, just two years later, he would return to the hospital – not as a doctor, but as a patient in need of life-saving treatment.

“Until my last day of work, I never took a day off for being sick,” he said. “I was always a healthy person. However, by late summer of 2022, I started noticing some shortness of breath when I did any physical activity. On October 15, 2022 – I’ll never forget the day – I developed a cold, which turned into a fever that would not go away.”

After a few days, Dr. Yasin sought treatment at an emergency room. When he arrived, the medical team discovered his oxygen saturation was extremely low. He was admitted to the hospital, and the team had to administer supplemental oxygen.

During his visit, Dr. Yasin received news that would forever change his life.

He was diagnosed with scleroderma-associated interstitial lung disease, a chronic condition in which scar tissue and inflammation build up in the walls of the lungs’ air sacs, stemming from the scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder.

“When I received my diagnosis, the doctors told me there was no treatment,” Dr. Yasin said.

By January 2023, he had rapidly deteriorated. It was determined a lung transplant was his best option.

After receiving his diagnosis, Dr. Yasin spent time researching the best transplant centers across the country. Ultimately, he decided to go back home, and chose to receive care at the Miami Transplant Institute (MTI), an affiliation between Jackson Health System and UHealth – University of Miami Health System.

“I am blessed to have the ability to have gotten my life-saving transplant at any other medical center, but I chose MTI for two reasons – one, because of the quality of care and outstanding outcomes after transplant surgery, and two, because of the multidisciplinary care,” he said. “I spent my professional career making very difficult decisions for my high-risk patients. I was sure that I made the right decision for myself by choosing MTI.”

Dr. Yasin began his work-up to prepare for a double-lung transplant. However, by February 2023, his oxygen levels were so low that he needed to be admitted to Jackson Memorial Hospital. At that point, he needed 25 to 30 liters of oxygen to be able to take a breath properly.

“The only activity I was able to do was, once a day, walk about 300 yards in the hospital hallway with a nurse,” Dr. Yasin said. “I could not go from my bed to the bathroom without feeling shortness of breath. I felt like I was always under water.”

By the end of February, Dr. Yasin was placed on the waitlist for a double-lung transplant.

After three weeks and three different attempts at procuring lungs for him, a match was found.

“I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Yasin said. “I was happy and excited for what my life was about to look like.”

On March 20, 2023, he underwent a successful double-lung transplant at Jackson Memorial, led by Mauricio Pipkin, MD, surgical director of the ECMO program, and Tiago N. Machuca, MD, PhD, director of Jackson’s The Lung Center.

Dr. Yasin spent three weeks recovering in the intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial and Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at UHealth/Jackson before returning home.

After his transplant, he continued receiving rehabilitation therapy. By June, he was driving himself to his post-transplant appointments and was starting to feel like himself again.

More than a year later, Dr. Yasin feels better than ever – he walks two miles every day, continues volunteering in the medical community, and spends much-needed time with his wife and family.

Today, he follows a strict, post-transplant regimen to help him stay healthy, and he credits the donor family and the team at Jackson for giving him a second chance at life.

“I received a letter from the donor family; they wanted me to know their son was somebody who always wanted to do good things,” Dr. Yasin said. “Is ‘thank you’ good enough? I don’t know. But my promise to the donor family is the values of their son will continue to live on through me, thanks to the care I received at Jackson and at MTI.”

Mauricio Pipkin, MD

305-355-5839

Tiago Machuca, MD

305-355-5000