Japanese COVID-19 patient receives world's first living donor lung transplant

Japanese COVID-19 patient receives world's first living donor lung transplant
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A Japanese woman whose lungs suffered severe damage from COVID-19 became the world’s first-ever recipient of a lung transplant from living donors this week. 

Kyoto University Hospital on Thursday announced that a Japanese woman from the western region of Kansai underwent an 11-hour operation Wednesday to help repair her lungs, according to The Associated Press

Hospital officials said the woman, who was not identified by name, is currently in recovery, and her husband and son, who donated parts of their lungs, are also in stable condition. 

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The AP reported that the female patient had tested positive for COVID-19 late last year and subsequently developed difficulty breathing. 

After her condition worsened, she eventually had to be placed on a life support machine that worked as an artificial lung. 

The woman spent more than three months at the hospital, and the lung damage suffered as a result of the virus left a transplant as the only option for survival, the hospital said. 

Hiroshi Date, a thoracic surgeon who led the 30-member team that conducted the operation, said at a news conference, “We demonstrated that we now have an option of lung transplants (from living donors),” the AP reported. 

Date added that the lung transplant “is a treatment that gives hope for patients" who have suffered prolonged damage after contracting COVID-19. 

The hospital added that transplants from living donors are considered a better alternative to parts of lungs taken from brain-dead donors, which has already been carried out for patients with coronavirus-related lung damage in the U.S., Europe and China. 

In June, surgeons at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago announced that they had successfully performed a double lung transplant on a woman who had been infected with COVID-19. 

Doctors said at the time that the lung transplant was the only viable option for the patient, a Hispanic woman in her 20s, given how damaged her lungs were after spending six weeks on a ventilator and a life support machine.