The 69-year-old woke up from a medically-induced coma on Saturday, two days after undergoing lifesaving surgery at AKH Vienna hospital.
Lauda had been on holiday in Ibiza in mid-July when he fell ill, flying to the Austrian hospital for treatment.
However, his condition deteriorated into a severe pneumonia. Lauda had to be connected to a heart-lung machine to supply his blood with the oxygen his failing organs could not provide.
The situation was urgent; doctors determined that Lauda would only survive for “three to seven” days without a transplant.A donor was found in Hamburg, Germany on Wednesday evening — coincidentally, 42 years to the day since Lauda’s fiery crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring — and flown to Vienna.
Lauda went under the knife on Thursday, a team of 10 specialists spending six hours performing the transplant surgery.
Professor Walter Klepetko, AKH’s head of thoracic surgery and the lead surgeon in Lauda’s operation, said they are “very satisfied” with Lauda’s condition.
“He will be the old man again, he will be able to fly again, even work as before,” he told OE24.
Although Lauda’s Nurburgring crash left him with severe burns and damaged lungs from inhaling toxic fumes and flames, Professor Klepetko said it was not a reason for his current condition.
“One can absolutely assume that lung transplantation is not a late consequence of the fire accident,” he told ORF.
Klepeteko said Lauda will now face at least four more weeks in hospital, but could potentially be trackside in the Formula 1 paddock again by early October.
Source: Fox Sports Image: AP