Japanese Doctors Perform World’s First Living Donor Lung Transplant to Covid-19 Patient


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.

Japanese doctors perform a lung transplant on a Covid-19 patient.

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.

In June last year, American surgeons successfully performed a double lung transplant on a Covid-19 patient, which is believed to be the first operation of its kind on a coronavirus patient in the country.
Last month, American surgeons completed a “Covid to Covid” double lung transplant, using lungs from a donor who recovered from Covid-19, only to die from another cause, for a patient in his 60s whose lungs were damaged by the illness.
A study published earlier this year of more than 1,700 patients treated in the Chinese pandemic city of Wuhan, ground zero, found that X-rays of seriously ill patients showed evidence of lung damage months after their infection.

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