Kyoto University Hospital said the woman underwent an 11-hour operation by a 30-member medical team on Wednesday to transplant lung tissue from her husband and son.
But the Kyoto hospital said this case was the first in which living donor lung tissue was transplanted into a Covid-19 patient.
Dr. Hiroshi Date, a thoracic surgeon at the hospital who led the operation, said it gave hope to patients suffering from severe lung damage from Covid-19.
“We showed that we now have an option for lung transplants (from living donors),” he told a news conference Thursday.
The patient, identified only as a woman from Japan’s western Kansai region, contracted Covid-19 late last year and spent months on a life support machine that functioned as an artificial lung, according to Kyoto University Hospital.
Covid-19 caused so much damage to her lungs that they were no longer functional and she needed a lung transplant to live.
The woman’s husband and son offered to donate parts of their lungs. Brain-dead donor transplants remain rare in Japan, and living donors are considered a better option, according to the hospital statement.
The husband and son are stable and the woman remains in intensive care. He is expected to be out of the hospital in about two months, according to the hospital.