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Matías, the boy of the medical feat: he received a triple transplant, gained 25 kilos and already leads a (almost) normal life


When he was operated on, he weighed 48 kg. He enrolled in the CBC and dreams of being a psychologist or a doctor, to give back some of what he received. His case was unique in Latin America.

Emilia vexler

07/24/2021 2:35 PM

  • Clarí

  • Society

Updated 07/24/2021 2:35 PM


I was 19 years old and I didn't understand anything. I thought: 'What are journalists doing here?'. Cameramen, people like you who came to my house to write about me. Later, when I was older, I realized that there were a lot of surgeons doing everything for me, for 12 hours, in an operating room. Now I hear that someone is a 'surgeon' and I almost get up and put my hand on my chest. Like in the hymn.


This interview with

Matías Proverbio

, who turns 23 in one month, is a


for him



deja vu

of the cover that was won in Clarín.

Of the 15 minutes of fame he never sought, had, and lost.

But for the

10 surgeons

who operated on him on December 12, 2017 at the

Favaloro Foundation

, this story has nothing from the past.

Not lost.

Matías is the boy from Avellaneda who

arrived malnourished

from the Ricardo Gutiérrez Children's Hospital and who, three years later, continues to represent a

national medical feat,

with blond highlights and




He received the

first combined double-lung and liver transplant in Latin America


His diagnosis, at 16, was

cystic fibrosis


And although there have long been patients on the waiting list for the same operation, it has yet to be done again.

Not in the whole country.

Not in the region.

Doctors Pablo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Bertolotti, who in 2018 performed the first combined lung and liver transplant in Latin America Photo: Guillermo Rodriguez Adami

What does a boy from the South area do that "when he is older" realizes that he has literally come back to life?

Although "sincerely", he confesses, he does not like "at all" to study, he decides to enroll in the

CBC of the Faculty of Psychology of the UBA.

He is also thinking of studying medicine.

"They are two careers with a

vocation for service

and I choose them to

give a little of what I received," he


Do you win another cover of the newspaper?

For those who assisted him at the most critical moment of his life, and who come across him from time to time at check-ups, yes.

These controls are every 3 or 4 months and involve from neurologists to specialists in dermatology.

But the nebulizations are daily and the seven pills are as well.

"I just received

the first dose of AstraZeneca in June

. I am waiting for the second so I continue to take care of myself. I do not go to clandestine parties, there are always invitations, nor am I in closed places where there are more than 10 friends. I really take care. And although studying is not my strength, because, the truth ... I am more of the Playstation than of the books, I would like to help from the knowledge or from the restraint. I lived all the time before the transplant with the support of my mom but without doing therapy. And I think it would have done me very well, "he says.

Doctors Pablo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Bertolotti with the team that performed the first combined lung and liver transplant in Latin America in 2018. Photo: Guillermo Rodriguez Adami

The strongest thing that comes to mind from when he was very ill is that, two years before entering the operating room,

he bathed with the oxygen tank

. "To breathe I needed a mask that looked like Darth Vader," he said in his discharge note. Today he says it without shame. "Oxygen tube". Without


from Star Wars so much pain. But there are things that are still silent.

"On a date it's not like I say 'Hello, I'm the one with the double transplant.' Still, or at least it happened to me with my exes, about a month later I open up completely to tell it. It was all very difficult

. I take care so much.

 I don't drink alcohol, which I can't, and I even walk away if someone is smoking, "says Matías.

She goes from shyness to fluency only when she talks about it again after the operation.

10 surgeons inside and a mother outside

If in a single operation you implant the lungs and liver of the same cadaveric donor, you are not the protagonist of a frequent intervention.

According to data from UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing), in the United States

there are only just over 90 such surgeries registered.

Since 1984.

It was

12 hours in the operating room

and it required two medical teams working at the same time: 10 surgeons -three pulmonary, three hepatic, two to ablate the lung and two to ablate the liver-, two anesthetists, four instrumentation and two nurses.

Plus the strength of Zulma, her mother, who was waiting outside.

Matías Proverb before the operation.

Weighed 48 kilos

Cystic fibrosis is a congenital disease

- Matías' 6-year-old sister also has it - that affects people from birth and so far does not have a cure or specific treatment.

It is the early diagnosis and its follow-up that make it possible to improve the morbidity, quality and survival conditions of the patients.

If neglected, it leads to

progressive deterioration

and many people end up with severe respiratory failure.

A few are also associated with liver failure and cirrhosis, as was the case with this student from the CBC.

"It was very difficult to make the decision that this combined transplant was possible, that it needed

clockwork precision

. But with it it was possible and the truth is that the case is still discussed in inter-American societies. It gave us the confidence that it is possible. People To those that we would not have given the opportunity before, today they are on the waiting list, "

Alejandro Bertolotti

, head of transplants at the Favaloro Foundation

, tells



He - who participated in more than 300 transplants - is the

cardiovascular surgeon specializing in pulmonary pathologies

who that day entered the operating room first and left the operating room last.

Meanwhile, Matías "slept" and that Buenos Aires surgical room was both a parade.

The media were warned.

Bertolotti says that since that day "there have been no major changes in the combined transplant technique", but there have been improvements in anesthesia and immunosuppression, that cocktail of medication that

prevents the body from rejecting organs that it does not recognize as "original".

So why wasn't something like it repeated?


there was no exact match

between another patient and donor. In addition to their own clinical condition," he explains.  

There are currently

1,458 patients under follow-up in our country

, where 607 are under 12 years of age.

Since January there has been the Advisory Council for the Approach to Cystic Fibrosis (CAPAFiQ), which seeks to define the main lines of action and agree on lines of work, within the framework of compliance with Law No. 27,552 that establishes comprehensive coverage of medications for patients with this pathology.

The legacy of the doctor to the patient

"We met Matías when he was very ill. Imagine that he was a patient who needed two transplants to have a normal life. He

was very deteriorated.

Having crossed it and hardly recognizing him because of how strong he now looks, is a personal and professional satisfaction that realizes the importance of organ donation to save lives ",

Pablo Barros Schelotto, who was in charge of the liver success of the operation

, tells



Matías, who measures 1.71,

weighed 48 kilos in December 2017


Today, "based on milanesa and stew"

weighs 73


Food is his "social indulgence," he says, because he can't "even go to a bowling alley."

At most, it reaches "the bar of a quiet bar."

Nor can he play ball, "so as not to overexert his breath," so he will begin to watch his weight.


his biggest challenge is finishing one of the two



he has planned.

So he told the two surgeons who are now talking about him again, in this





Look also

Matías returned to life: he received two lungs and a liver, and now he smiles

Source: clarin

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