A coronavirus patient whose lungs stopped working became the world’s first live donor transplant recipient for such a procedure in Japan, a medical facility said on Thursday.
The transplant was conducted by the Kyoto University Hospital during an 11-hour operation, according to Kyodo News.
Donors, who include the patient’s husband and son from western Japan, are said to be in stable condition.
Doctors said the patient, who was admitted last Monday while connected to an artificial heart-lung device known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is currently in intensive care and will take two months to fully recuperate “if all goes well.”
“I think there is a lot of hope for this treatment in the sense that it creates a new option,” said Hiroshi Date who was in charge of the operation.
In most cases, coronavirus directly attacks the respiratory system. The patient had no medical history but her respiratory function deteriorated “rapidly” after she became infected at the end of last year, said the hospital.
She developed pneumonia which caused both of her lungs to harden and shrink, “destroying most of their functionality.”
The hospital said dozens of lung transplants to treat COVID-19 patients have been performed “using organs from brain-dead donors” in China, the United States and Europe.
In Japan, however, the hospital said the waiting period can be as long as tw0-and-a-half-years where there are few donors, according to the news agency.