Transplant From Husband, Son Saves Life of COVID Patient

Infection destroyed Japanese woman's lung function
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2021 10:07 AM CDT
First-of-Its-Kind Transplant Saves Life of COVID Patient
This combination of radiographs provided on April 9, 2021, by Kyoto University Hospital, shows the chest of a patient before the surgery, left, and after the surgery, right.   (Kyoto University Hospital via AP)

Surgeons in Japan say they have carried out a first-of-its-kind operation that will give hope to coronavirus patients with severe lung damage. In the world's first transplant of lung tissue from living donors to a COVID patient, a woman who had spent months on a life support machine received transplants of healthy tissue from her husband and her son, CNN reports. Doctors say the woman's lungs were no longer functional and she required a lung transplant to live—but since organ donations from brain-dead patients are rare in Japan, it could have been years before an organ was available.

"I think there is a lot of hope for this treatment in the sense that it creates a new option," said Hiroshi Date, the surgeon in charge of the operation, per Kyodo News. The woman received part of her husband's right lung and part of her son's left lung. The husband and son, who accepted the risk of decreased lung function, are in stable condition and the woman is expected to leave the hospital in around two months. Doctors say the woman, whose name has not been released, had no pre-existing conditions before a coronavirus infection wrecked her lungs late last year. (In the US last year, a double lung transplant saved the life of a COVID patient in her 20s.)

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