COVID Patient Becomes First To Receive Lung Transplant From Living Donors

By Bill Galluccio

April 9, 2021

A Japanese woman who suffered severe lung damage following a battle with COVID-19 has successfully undergone lung transport surgery. The woman is the first person in the world to receive new lungs from living donors.

The woman, who was not identified, contracted COVID-19 last year and had to be put on life support. She spent months hooked up to a machine that functioned as an artificial lung. After she recovered from the coronavirus, doctors determined that her lungs were too damaged and that she needed to undergo transplant surgery.

There is a shortage of lung donors, and the waiting list can be years long. When her family realized she was unlikely to find a suitable donor in time, they decided to donate their lungs. Her husband volunteered to donate part of his left lung, while her son donated part of his right lung.

A team of 30 doctors, led by Dr. Hiroshi Date, successfully conducted the 11-hour surgery at Kyoto University Hospital.

The woman is expected to spend about two months in the hospital but should return to her everyday life in about three months. Her husband and son are also recovering in the hospital and are in stable condition.

"We demonstrated that we now have an option of lung transplants (from living donors)," Dr. Date said. "I think this is a treatment that gives hope for patients."

Photo: Getty Images

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