Surgeons in the United States successfully implanted a kidney developed in a genetically modified pig into a human patient, and the organ worked normally.
According to the Reuters news agency, the surgery was done at NYU Langone Health in New York City and involves the use of a pig whose genes had been tweaked such that its tissues no longer carried a chemical known to provoke an almost immediate rejection.
According to the Reuters news agency, the patient was a brain-dead patient with evidence of kidney failure whose family agreed to the experiment before she was to be taken off life support.
The new kidney was attached to her blood vessels and stored outside her body for three days, allowing researchers access to it.
Test results of the transplanted kidney’s function “looked pretty normal,” said transplant surgeon Dr Robert Montgomery, who led the study.
According to him, the kidney made “the amount of urine that you would expect” from a transplanted human kidney, and there was no evidence of the vigorous, early rejection seen in non-human primates when unmodified pig kidneys are transplanted.
After the transplant, the recipient’s abnormal creatinine level – an indicator of poor kidney function – returned to normal, Montgomery said.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, almost 107,000 people in the United States are waiting for organ transplants, with more than 90,000 of them waiting for a kidney.
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