Paraquat is a highly toxic herbicide, which not only leads to acute organ damage, but also to pulmonary fibrosis. There are only anecdotal reports of rescue lung transplantation, as paraquat is stored and only slowly released from different tissues. Bridging the time to complete depletion of paraquat from the body could render this exceptional therapy strategy possible, but not much is known on the time interval after which transplantation can safely be performed.
We report on a case of accidental paraquat poisoning in a 23 years old Caucasian man, who developed respiratory failure due to pulmonary fibrosis. The patient was listed for high urgency lung transplantion, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation was implemented to bridge the time to transplantation. The patient died 32 days after paraquat ingestion, before a suitable donor organ was found. In postmortem tissue specimen, no paraquat was detectable anymore.
This case report indicates that complete elimination of paraquat after oral ingestion of a lethal dose is achievable. The determined time frame for this complete elimination might be relevant for patients, in which lung transplantation is considered.