Wednesday, 08 august 2018, 11:44 , by Matthew Scott
Niki Lauda had just days to live before he was given a lung transplant, doctors who operated on the three-time Formula 1 champion have said. Lauda is recovering in Vienna General Hospital after he went under the knife last week.
Lauda fell ill while on holiday in Ibiza and had to be rushed to hospital when his condition swiftly deteriorated.
The 69-year-old was in intensive care for 10 days, it has been revealed, before doctors decided to operate - leaving him in an artificial coma for several days before he awoke over the weekend.
Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda will remain hospitalised until he makes a full recovery and is not expected to return to the F1 paddock for at least two months.
"Unfortunately, after 10 days in intensive care, because of a critical oxygen supply, therapy escalated," cardiologist Gottfried Heinz said. "We had to perform a mechanical lung replacement, an ECMO – an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation."
Once Lauda was listed for a transplant, it has been revealed how urgently the operation had to be performed.
"We could assume that he would be assigned an suitable organ within the next few days," said thoracic surgeon Konrad Hotzenecker.
"The average waiting time in this case is five days."
Doctors were able to remove the mechanical lung in the operating theatre and Lauda was breathing under his own strength within 24 hours of the operation.
According to hospital officials, patients who have undergone similar procedures have a 90% chance of survival after one year and 75% after five years.
"Future activities should not differ significantly from previous activities – if all goes well," said surgeon Walter Klepetko.
"The situation is such that we really expect him to be able to return to a life that is normal for him. Time will tell whether we will reach our goal."