Woman Receives World First Living Donor Lung Transplant After COVID-19 Infection

The more that medical science advances, the more options a patient has when a life-threatening illness looms over them.

And over the past few decades, the wider variety of transplants that are now possible would appear to serve as a perfect example of this progress in action. However, with these advancements comes an unfortunate reality: All the skills and technology in the world can't do much for someone if there aren't enough organs to actually transplant.

Indeed, those who have found themselves on a waiting list for such an operation know full well how long and uncertain the wait can be before the procedure that saves their lives can actually take place.

But thanks to an unprecedented development in Japan, there's a chance that this reality may not be so perilous for as many people in the near future.

Late last year, a woman from the Kansai region of Japan contracted COVID-19.

As CNN reported, her infection turned out to be severe enough that she spent months on a life support machine and was left with lungs that could no longer function.

She would need a lung transport to survive.

As is the case in much of the rest of the world, such a prospect would normally see her name added to a long waiting list in Japan.

According to the BBC, however, her situation changed when her husband and son decided to donate segments of their own lungs instead.

Doctors at Kyoto University Hospital stated that this marks the world's first case in which a COVID-19 patient received a living donor lung transplant.

Despite this fact and warnings that the donors' diminished lung capacity would result in health risks, both of them confirmed their decisions and the operation could proceed.

On April 7, a medical team of 30 people gathered together to transplant the lung tissue from both donors.

As CNN reported, the procedure would end up taking 11 hours.

Although this was a groundbreaking surgery, doctors had reason to be optimistic about the woman's chances as transplants involving live donors are generally the best possible option. This is particularly true in Japan, where transplants from brain-dead donors remain rare.

Despite the risks, the operation eventually proved successful with both donors remaining stable after it was completed.

According to CNN, the COVID-19 patient remains in intensive care but doctors expect she'll be able to leave the hospital in about two months.

This procedure was the latest in a line of ambitious lung transplants that have needed to take place in the wake of the pandemic.

As CNN reported, these included a successful double lung transplant for another coronavirus patient in June and a "COVID to COVID" double lung transplant from a patient who had previously recovered from the virus.

h/t: CNN

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