Kyoto University Hospital said the woman underwent an 11-hour operation by a 30-strong medical team on Wednesday to transplant lung tissue from her husband and son.
But the Kyoto hospital said this case was the first in which lung tissue had been transplanted from living donors to a Covid-19 patient.
Dr. Hiroshi Date, a thoracic surgeon at the hospital who led the operation, said it gave hope to patients suffering from severe lung damage from Covid-19.
“We demonstrated that we now have an option of lung transplants (from living donors),” he said at a Thursday news conference.
The patient, identified only as a woman from Japan’s western region of Kansai, contracted Covid-19 late last year, and spent months on a life support machine that worked as an artificial lung, according to Kyoto University Hospital.
Covid-19 caused so much damage to her lungs they were no longer functional, and she required a lung transplant to live.
The woman’s husband and son offered to donate parts of their lungs. Transplants from brain-dead donors are still rare in Japan, and live donors are considered a better option, according to the hospital’s statement.
The husband and son are in a stable condition and the woman remains in intensive care. She’s expected to be able to leave the hospital in about two months, according to the hospital.