May 16, 2014 Maan Pamintuan-Lamorena
A transplant surgery in the Kyoto University Hospital was successful in transplanting a man’s right lung into his wife’s left lung. This is the first time such living donor transplant was completed and the first for a lung from a different side to be attached to the other side.
A woman, who has been suffering from fibrosis of lung tissue, had her left lung affected by the disease, causing it to malfunction. Her condition worsened causing the doctors to arrange an emergency surgery on her. It was an unusual case as compared to ordinary transplants where lungs are implanted on the same side it was taken from. In this case, her husband’s left lung was far too small for her frame and would not be a match. The doctors’ instead took a part of her husband’s right lung. In an unprecedented operation, the surgeons took a graft of the husband’s lower right lung, rotated it and fitted it to the woman’s left lung. It was a risk because normal bronchi and blood vessels are situated differently in the right and left lungs. To prepare for the surgery, the doctors’ practiced the operation with a model of the excised lung and the patient’s chest area constructed with a 3-D printer. It gave them an initial idea on how to approach the operation before actually opening up the bodies.
Only 40 percent of 368 pulmonary transplants recorded in Japan made use of living donors. “The existence of the option of implanting the right lung in the left lung will enable more patients to undergo transplantation, “ said pulmonologist and professor at Kyoto University, Hiroshi Date. However, the procedure must be further studied so that other doctors’ will be able to replicate the results. “More experience and sharing of information will be necessary to generalize the finding,” said Meinoshin Okumura, president of the Japanese Association for Chest Surgery. Both the woman and her husband have since left the hospital and have returned to their daily activities and work.