On Thursday, Kyoto University Hospital announced that a woman from Kansai in Japan who had lung damage due to COVID-19 is recovering and in stable condition after the donation of lung tissue from her husband and son.
At a press conference, per the Associated Press, the successful procedure was touted as showing that the medical community can now view lung transplants from living donors as a viable option, with Dr. Hiroshi Date—who led a 30-person team in the surgery—noting that this treatment “gives hope for patients” who are suffering from severe lung damage amid the pandemic.
The woman in question is said to have first been diagnosed with COVID-19 in late 2020, later developing breathing problems that continued to worsen. At one point, she was on a life support machine that functioned as an artificial lung for longer than three months. After getting through COVID-19, the woman’s lungs were no longer able to function properly, making a transplant her only choice.
While the majority of people with COVID-19 ultimately recover within weeks or months of first contracting illness, some—including those referred to as long-haulers—see a range of symptoms that persist for longer. The CDC notes that multi-organ effects can affect “most, if not all” body systems including the heart, the lungs, the kidney, the skin, and the functions of the brain.
Per the most recent update to the CDC’s guidance on long-term effects of COVID-19, it remains unknown how long multi-organ system effects may last.